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According to the Moscow Times (which is financed by a Dutch press conglomerate whose Russian-language publications Russia declares to be "foreign agents")

As the highly transmissible Delta variant started sweeping across the country in June, Moscow announced a series of unprecedented steps to boost the vaccination rate, including a controversial QR-code entry system to bars and restaurants, as well as forcing service sector businesses to ensure 60% of their staff had been vaccinated, under threat of fines or shutdowns if they failed to hit the target.

Other regions followed Moscow’s lead, rolling out their own mandatory vaccination rules. Vaccination rates soared. By early July Russia was administering five times as many shots a day as the previous month.

But that trend has since reversed, following Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s decision to roll back the measures.

His move to cancel the unpopular QR-code entry system and not enforce checks on employees’ vaccination status was driven by political arithmetic and the looming parliamentary elections scheduled for next month, said Tatyana Stanovaya, founder of the R.Politik political analysis outfit.

It's not totally implausible that this was an electoral move, even in Russia, where the ruling party has enjoyed a continuous majority for a couple of decades, because various such relaxation of anti-Covid measures coincided with elections in other countries/regions and in some cases even marked wins, at least in local elections, for parties opposing such measures.

But, what I want to ask is: was there an official explanation given by the Russian local authorities why the QR-code checks were dropped?

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Mandatory QR codes were cancelled as of July 19 2021. The reasons cited were the improvement of the epidemiological situation, a substantial increase in vaccination, and requests from businesses.

The number of daily infections fell by almost half, and the number of hospitalizations by a third. The restrictive measures spurred vaccination, and most Moscow companies vaccinated at least 60% of their employees. More than two million Muscovites got vaccinated in the month prior to the lifting of mandatory QR checks. And last but not least, according to an anonymous source at Moscow city hall, comprehension and mercy for the struggling restaurant sector played a role. The mayor, speaking to the prime minister, mentioned that he had heard from a wide range of societal and political organizations, including restauranteurs and United Russia (the ruling political party).

Sources (in Russian): BBC Russian, RBC.ru (РБК), YouTube

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  • I think you're misinterpreting the 60% though. That was the target, according to the BBC article you've linked. It's not clear if it was achieved. Actually, RBC claims it was. There's also tass.com/society/1313079 which makes the same claim in English.
    – Fizz
    Sep 13 at 1:18
  • "Over 400,000 people were vaccinated between July 2 and 8 with two components - this is an average of 57,000 per day. Overall, 2.15 million people have been vaccinated," Strigunkova said." Frankly it's still rather unclear what they meant by "Over 2.15 million residents of the Moscow Region have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus infection, meeting the vaccination target by 58.33%." since the population of the Oblast is 7M. Not all would have been eligible for vaccination, but it still not clear 60% of what is 2M.
    – Fizz
    Sep 13 at 1:28
  • @Fizz The claim is that two million people were vaccinated in the month prior to July 16. Obviously quite a few other people had been vaccinated earlier than that. So that additional two million would have been enough to attain the target of 60%. (vedomosti.ru/society/articles/2021/07/16/…) Sep 13 at 1:41
  • The two million referred to both doses of vaccine. If only the first dose (component) is considered, the claim is that 3.8 million received it during that one-month period (same source as above). Sep 13 at 1:44
  • 1
    The "two million" figure applies to the city of Moscow, which is a distinct entity that is not actually part of Moscow Oblast. The population within the city limits is about 12 million. In any case, I didn't try to check the mayor's math. He claims 60%, and I just reported that. It might actually be 60% of "key employees" (restaurant workers, for instance), not of the whole population. In any case, Moscow oblast (Подмосковье) followed suit and also cancelled mandatory QR codes. Sep 13 at 1:51
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Yeah, they do claim to have met their target with regard to some of the worker segments; as AP reported on July 15:

Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said Wednesday that nearly 70% of medical workers, 66% of those working in Moscow education facilities and 76% of social workers have been vaccinated. Her statement came a day before the Thursday deadline authorities set for eligible companies and institutions a month ago to ensure that 60% of their staff receive at least one vaccine shot. [...]

Nearly 70% of those employed in the public transport sector in Moscow have been vaccinated, the statement said.

On the other hand, Meduza (another site that Russia labels a "foreign agent") makes somewhat clear that that wasn't referring to the whole population of the Region as they also reported on July 14:

The Belgorod region has the highest coronavirus vaccination rate in Russia — nearly 35 percent of the population, more than half a million people, have received their first dose. By comparison, even Moscow and the Moscow region are lagging behind, with just over 25 percent of their residents vaccinated against COVID-19.

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  • Fizz, could you please tie in the dropping of QR-codes to fully integrate this as answering your own question?
    – CGCampbell
    Sep 13 at 15:16

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