The Russian government on Tuesday made its most aggressive move yet to try to stem a second wave of the coronavirus, mandating masks in public places throughout the country.
The federal health watchdog agency, Rospotrebnadzor, also urged the governors of Russia’s 85 regions to order restaurants and entertainment venues to close by 11 p.m. Masks must be worn in taxis, public transportation, elevators and parking garages, and in any place where more than 50 people are able to gather, according to the order published on the watchdog’s website. Officials offered no immediate details on how the order would be enforced.
The directive was unusual because President Vladimir V. Putin has resisted taking any nationwide measures to stop the virus’s spread in recent months, delegating the battle to regional leaders. And after a nationwide lockdown in April and May caused widespread economic pain, officials have been loath to order any new business closures, even as the infection rate reached new heights in recent weeks.
In another measure of the virus’s spread, a number of top officials have been exposed or infected. Sergey V. Lavrov, the foreign minister, entered self-quarantine Tuesday after having had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. The speaker of the lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav V. Volodin, told Mr. Putin on Monday that 91 of the assembly’s 450 representatives have or have had the coronavirus — and that 38 are currently hospitalized with the infection.
Russia recorded 16,550 cases on Tuesday, the fifth day in a row with more than 16,000 new cases. The government also reported 320 coronavirus deaths, a single-day record. Russia has recorded more than 1.5 million cases of the virus, with more than 114,00 of those coming in the past seven days, and a total of 26,000 deaths.