The Kremlin on Wednesday cautioned Russians against travelling during a non-working period ordered by Moscow to stem a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths.
President Vladimir Putin last week ordered the week-long paid holiday between October 30 and November 7 in a bid to reverse rising infections in the country, one of the worst-affected in Europe.
News agencies citing surveys report one-third of Russians plan to travel during the non-working period and the mayor of the Black Sea resort city of Sochi has warned of a huge influx of tourists.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that while travel was not banned next week it could affect the virus’ spread.
“Epidemiologists have raised concerns that many people are planning to go on trips and travel,” Peskov said, adding the Kremlin hoped the non-working days would “help improve the epidemiological situation”.
He added that closing borders between regions was “undesirable” and constituted a “last resort”.
Sochi mayor Alexei Kopaygorodsky said as many as 100,000 tourists were planning to travel to his city.
He warned visitors they would have to show a negative Covid test or vaccine certificate at hotels.
The Sevastopol region of Crimea, which was annexed by the Kremlin in 2014 and is another popular holiday destination, has established checkpoints to check PCR tests and vaccine certificates for those leaving.
Saint Petersburg meanwhile has closed nearly all public places and banned cultural and sporting events. The capital, Moscow, will also shut down its non-essential services.
Russian authorities have struggled to convince its vaccine-sceptic population to get inoculated even though several vaccines have been freely available for months.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)