Moscow, Jun 4 (efe-epa).- Masks have been made mandatory in Moscow until a Covid-19 vaccine is developed, estimated to be October at the earliest, authorities announced on Thursday.
Mayor of the Russian capital Sergei Sobyanin said the measures were necessary to help stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“How long we will have to wear masks… it will largely depend on the development of a mass vaccine,” he told Russian news agency TASS.
“According to various estimates, it will happen between October and February next year.
“I would like to hope that we will receive the first large vaccine shipments in October.”
Russia is the third-worst affected country in the world by the outbreak with more than 431,700 confirmed infections and 5,200 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
Health authorities on Thursday reported 8,831 new cases and 164 deaths during the last day.
The Russian capital, home to more than 12 million inhabitants, is the main focus of the outbreak in the country with 187,200 cases and 2,600 fatalities.
Moscow was put into lockdown on 29 March forcing the closure of shops, bars, restaurants, parks and gyms.
Authorities recently started to ease these restrictions as the contagion situation has improved.
Sobyanin said he hoped that normal life will have resumed by this time next year.
“People tend to quickly forget bad things, it’s the way human psychology works, and thank god for it,” he added.
“I think we will go back to our old way of living in a year.”
He said emergency provisional medical centers will continue to operate in the city to allow permanent hospitals to return to their normal work.
Some measures taken in Moscow have drawn criticism from both opponents and representatives of the ruling party, who argue that the mayor has exceeded his powers as a state of emergency has not been declared.
The first de-escalation measures were implemented on 12 May with the revival of the industry and construction sectors.
Trade restarted on Monday and Muscovites were also allowed to go outside for a walk three days a week.
Sobyanin said the pandemic has cost the city treasury around $3.6 billion as well as another $7.3 billion in loss of revenue due to the loss of economic activity. EFE-EPA