Coronavirus: Russia steps up restrictions as infections surge

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Russia has brought in tighter restrictions to try to stem a surge in coronavirus cases, making the wearing of face masks compulsory in all crowded places including public transport.

Russia’s consumer health watchdog also advises regional governments to close bars and restaurants between 23:00 and 06:00.

On Tuesday Russia reported a daily record of 320 deaths from the virus.

Monday saw the number of new infections hit a record 17,347 over 24 hours.

The country has the world’s fourth highest number of Covid-19 cases after the US, India and Brazil.

Earlier this week the Kremlin warned that the coronavirus outbreak was moving from Moscow – which has seen about a third of all Russia’s cases – to other regions.

The latest moves come as other countries across Europe report record increases in cases. In Italy, protests have broken out in towns and cities against a new round of restrictions. Meanwhile in Belgium doctors have been asked to keep working, even if they have the virus, because the health system is in danger of being overwhelmed.

From Wednesday, face masks will be mandatory in all potentially crowded areas including public transport, taxis, car parks and lifts, public health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said. Regional authorities will have responsibility for implementing the new rules.

Russia brought in similar measures at the beginning of the initial outbreak in the spring but lifted them in July as the number of cases eased.

In addition, Rospotrebnadzor head Anna Popova recommended an overnight curfew for bars, restaurants and other public venues. Other recommendations include increased efforts to disinfect public transport, taxis and public spaces.

In total, Russia has recorded more than 1.5 million infections and 26,400 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.