Moscow reopens museums and terraces as it rolls back coronavirus curbs By Reuters

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© Reuters. Outbreak of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) in Moscow

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By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Residents of Moscow could actually return to museums and summer terraces on Tuesday for the first time in more than 8 weeks as the Russian capital rolled back more coronavirus curbs despite continuing to record over 1,000 new daily infections.

Starting on Tuesday, museums, libraries and zoos in the city of nearly 13 million are reopening their doors, albeit with continued limits on the number of visitors at anyone time. Dentists are getting back to business too.

Authorities are allowing sports to resume, though spectators must use up no more than 10% of certain venue’s capacity.

Moscow began to lift its lockdown last week, allowing residents to leave their homes, freely use public transport and travel throughout the city within their vehicles without the restrictions.

Kremlin critics have accused authorities of lifting restrictions too fast to pave the way for a nationwide vote on reforms that will allow President Vladimir Putin to run again for president twice after 2024 when his current term ends.

Voting will take place over a period of time of a week, culminating on July 1. The Kremlin has denied decisions to help ease curbs were politically-motivated.

The mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, said on Monday it was time and energy to further ease restrictions since the pandemic was on the wane and pressure on the city’s health system was easing.

Moscow has been the area worst-affected by the pandemic in Russia, that has the third highest number of cases on the planet with more than half a million infections, something authorities attribute to an enormous testing programme which has seen over 15 million tests carried out to date.

Moscow has recorded 208,680 infections and 3,386 deaths.

Updated nationwide figures released on Tuesday said the general tally of coronavirus cases across Russia had reached 545,458 and the sum total number of deaths 7,284, a reduced figure than many other countries.

The accuracy of Russia’s mortality figures has been the focus of intense debate.

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