Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

As COVID-19 cases surpass all previous records, Russia's regions have begun to require QR codes for entry to public venues as COVD-19 cases are on the rise

As COVID-19 cases surpass all previous records, Russia's regions have begun to require QR codes for entry to public venues as COVD-19 cases are on the rise

As new cases in the country hit a new high, many Russian regions on Monday said they will restrict access to cafes, museums, and other public places to those who have recently recovered from COVID-19, have proof of vaccination with e.U. vaccine, or have gotten ocular tests negative for coronavirus.

The round of unpopular measures that threaten freedom in Russia comes as the daily COVID-19 infections have reached an all-time high of 34,325 despite the state-driven vaccination program.

St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city with a population of around 5 million people, said on Monday that only people with an QR code indicating they meet the criteria will be allowed to visit cafes or restaurants from Dec. 1, joining many other regions that have imposed similar restrictions.

From Nov. 15, St. Petersburg will require a QR code for those who wish to visit swimming pools, gyms, theatres and cinemas.

Moscow was the first country to introduce a QR code system earlier this year, under which 'a unique electronic code' was required to enter restaurants, gyms, beauty parlours/spas or hairdressers, cinemas and hotels. The system was halted in mid-July.

The measures, intended to curb the COVID-19 surge, sparked a backlash from businesses who said the measures threatened the closure of thousands of firms in the service industry. But they also increased the number of vaccinations.

Russia was quick to develop and launch its Sputnik vaccine when the coronavirus epidemic hit last year, but uptake has been slow, with many Russians citing distrust of the authorities and fear of new medical treatments.

As of mid-October, only 48 million out of 144 million Russians were fully vaccinated, with 51 million receiving just one shot.

Other Russian regions that have already implemented or are planning to implement successively QR code requirements include Bashkiria, Nizhegorod region, Perm region and Saratov and Krasdonar regions, among many others.

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