International news services have given us a glimpse of the current impact of the pandemic in Russia, especially in Moscow, but it is difficult to get a sense of the state of affairs in other localities. Linkages reached out to colleagues in the last month to find out what is going in in our sister city. As reported in the press, the situation in the large cities is not good. Covid-19 has been spreading, putting a strain on the healthcare system. Unvaccinated residents over 60s in the capital have been ordered to lock down for four months starting in November. Authorities in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, have declared that Covid-19 restrictions would not be lifted until at least 80% of its population was vaccinated.
Deaths related to Covid-19 have been exceeding 1,000 a day in Russia; however, nationwide, only about a third of the population has been inoculated. As in the US, some citizens are reluctant to get vaccinated (with the Russian-developed Sputnik 5 Covid vaccine.) The reasons are varied, as they are here in the US but skepticism about the vaccine and distrust of the government are main reasons. In reaction to worsening community spread and increasing death rates, the federal government ordered a nationwide “lock down” from October 31 to November 7 to force Russians to limit social contact.
In Novgorod, our friends (who all report they are healthy at this time) tell us that the governor of the Novgorod oblast extended the “no work” lock down period for another week. Conditions are “not good,” they write, but they try to continue their lives in spite of the situation. Cultural events have resumed and are open to residents who can show proof of vaccination. This year is the 200th anniversary of Dostoevsky’s birth. A ballet based on “The Brothers Karamazov” was performed in Novgorod. The museums are offering many interesting programs too; visitors must wear masks and show their QR-codes as proof of vaccination when visiting theaters or museums.
We were told Novgorod had a beautiful summer this year but now the fall rains have arrived. We all hope that the change in season will also bring a change in fortune for our sister city friends impacted by the pandemic.