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World News

Moscow schools start unplanned holidays as COVID-19 cases rise

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow schools began unplanned holidays on Monday and businesses were required to have at least 30% of their staff working remotely, as COVID-19 cases across Russia hit their highest level since May 12.

FILE PHOTO: A teacher and first graders are seen in the classroom on the first day of the new school year, as schools reopen after the summer break and the lockdown due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Moscow, Russia September 1, 2020. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

Authorities were also weighing the possibility of re-introducing tough lockdown measures last seen in the capital in late spring, the Vedomosti newspaper reported, as the daily tally of new cases reached 10,888 nationwide, including 3,537 in Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was unaware of plans to impose a strict lockdown however, despite new restrictions aimed at limiting social interaction taking effect in the Russian capital on Monday.

The measures, first announced by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin last week, include a fortnight of unscheduled holidays for schools and an order for employers to ensure that at least 30% of staff work from home.

Viktor Basyuk, the deputy education minister, said schools in Moscow would also fully shift to remote education, the Interfax news agency reported. It cited a source in the city government as saying that schools would start remote learning from Oct. 19.

The Ministry of Education said no decision about remote study had yet been taken though.

The Moscow Mayor’s Office also announced it was re-opening two temporary COVID-19 hospitals, one in the Sokolniki exhibition centre, and the other in the Krylatskoe indoor ice skating arena, Interfax reported.

First set up as temporary hospitals in April-May, the buildings will primarily admit patients with light and medium-level symptoms, Sobyanin, the mayor, was cited as saying.

Over-65s and people with chronic illnesses have been advised to stay at home since Sept. 28.

“I ask everyone to follow the rules,” Sobyanin was cited as saying by Interfax.

Reporting by Maxim Rodionov and Tom Balmforth; writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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