Russia's south to demand tourists get vaccine amid COVID-19 surge

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia's holiday resort region on the Black Sea told tourists on Thursday it would not let them visit later this summer without a COVID-19 vaccination, part of a government campaign to speed up the inoculation drive amid a wave of infections.

The number of confirmed nationwide cases surged to 20,182 on Thursday, the most confirmed in a single day since Jan. 24. Both Moscow and St Petersburg recorded their most coronavirus-related deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

The authorities have blamed the case surge on the Delta variant and people's reluctance to get vaccinated despite the widespread availability of COVID-19 shots.

Officials have tried to capitalise on international travel restrictions caused by the pandemic to boost domestic tourism and demand for resorts such those in the southern Krasnodar region on the Black Sea.

But on Thursday, the region's authorities said the number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 was rising. It ordered hotels and health resorts to admit people from July 1 only if they have tested negative or were vaccinated against COVID-19.

From Aug. 1, that requirement will be tightened and people will only be allowed in if they have had the vaccine, the regional authorities said.

Officials have scrambled to compel people to get inoculated amid tepid demand for the vaccine since cases began surging this month.

Moscow's authorities have ordered bars and restaurants from Monday to serve people only if they can present a QR-code showing they have been vaccinated, had an infection indicating immunity or recently tested negative.

Unvaccinated people are to be refused non-emergency hospital treatment. Last week Moscow gave employers in public services a month to ensure that 60% of their staff had been vaccinated or else face a fine.

Authorities said on Thursday that such employers should suspend staff who refuse to get vaccinated as part of that directive unless they have special medical dispensation.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Maxim RodionovWriting by Tom BalmforthEditing by Alison Williams, Philippa Fletcher and Peter Graff)