Starting this October 28, businesses and other public places will remain closed in Moscow and its surroundings. Only pharmacies and premises selling food will be allowed to open. An exception has been made for theaters and museums, which may be entered with proof of vaccination or that the person has recovered from COVID-19. The new confinement will last until November 7.

The authorities resorted to this measure in view of the high number of infections and deaths recorded in the country, where the vaccination rate is still too low.

Opinions divided

Almost a year ago, the vaccination campaign was officially launched in Russia. But only one third of the population has already received full doses. A very low rate in the framework of developed countries.

On October 27, almost 36,000 new infections were reported. And more than 1,000 people die every day from COVID-related causes. “In the next few days we will reach historical records for the incidence of COVID-19,” Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin recently warned.

The authorities want to contain the new wave of coronavirus by confinement and virtually compulsory vaccination. Not surprisingly, with the increase in the number of infections, the voices of those in favor of compulsory immunization are growing louder.

However, according to a survey by the “Foundation of Public Opinion” (FOM), there is no consensus among Russians on this issue. Forty-seven percent of those polled said they were in favor; an equal number said they were against. At the same time, the poll revealed that 60 percent are convinced that mass vaccination is necessary to combat the pandemic. Only 23 percent said the opposite.

Distrust of the authorities

As of early summer, some 60 percent of Russians rejected the vaccine, while 30 percent were willing to have it, according to figures cited to DW by Denis Wolkow, director of the Russian polling institute “Lewada-Zentrum”. By the end of August, the vaccine’s opponents had dropped to 52 percent. Polls indicate that the poor vaccination rate in Russia is due to fear of the immunizing substance and distrust of the authorities.
“We see that among those who have a negative attitude to the authorities, the willingness to get vaccinated is lower,” Wolkow said. According to the sociologist, those who distrust the government reject any state initiative, be it vaccinations, surveillance videos or digital voting.

At present, about half of the Russian population supports the government’s efforts to combat the pandemic in one way or another, according to the “Romir” research consortium. Its director, Andrei Milechin, commented that “a polarization of society” can be detected. But, in his opinion, the government is reacting wrongly, with bans and restrictions.

“It is practically impossible to shut down or ban everything. The measures must be explained in a clear and well-argued way,” he says. And he says that decision-makers must understand that society has a complex structure. Consequently, each group of the population should be given convincing arguments.

Data collected by the gogov.ru portal in the last few days indicate that the pace of vaccination has increased again. Since mid-October, more than 500,000 people have been vaccinated daily. The announcement of confinements and restrictions for those who are not immunized has had an effect, according to Denis Wolkow of the “Lewada-Zentrum”. However, he notes that “such measures only work when they are consistent and long-term, which is not the case here.”

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