With coronavirus cases surging, Russian government orders national mask mandate

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The Russian government on Tuesday imposed a nationwide mask mandate, after more than 114,000 coronavirus cases were recorded in the country over the last seven days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had been avoiding having to take such a measure, instead leaving it up to regional leaders, The New York Times reports, but the government is trying to curb the spread of the virus amid a second wave. There have been more than 1.5 million confirmed cases in Russia, and 26,000 deaths.

Under the mandate, people must wear masks on public transportation, in taxis, elevators, and parking garages, and in any public place where more than 50 people can gather. The government did not say how this order will be enforced, the Times notes. Rospotrebnadzor, the federal health watchdog agency, is also asking Russia's regional governors to order restaurants and entertainment venues close their doors by 11 p.m.

On Tuesday, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, entered self-quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. The coronavirus has swept through Russia's lower house of parliament, with its speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, telling Putin on Monday that 91 of the assembly's 450 representatives have or had the virus, and 38 are now hospitalized because of it, the Times reports.

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