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Russian regions extend workplace shutdown, Moscow to lift curbs

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Specialists wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) spray disinfectant while sanitizing the Kazansky railway station amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

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MOSCOW, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Five Russian regions said on Wednesday they would extend a one-week workplace shutdown that took effect nationwide on Oct. 30 in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases, as the death toll from the country's epidemic hit a record high.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the shutdown last month, giving regional authorities the option of extending it.

Authorities in the Kursk and Bryansk regions, which border Ukraine, the Chelyabinsk region near the Ural mountains, Tomsk in Siberia and the western region of Smolensk said their shutdowns would be prolonged after Nov. 8.

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"The tense epidemiological situation forces us to extend the period of non-working days by another week," Tomsk governor Sergei Zhvachkin said in a statement. "One non-working week is not enough to stop the chain of infection."

Russia's daily COVID-19 death toll rose to a record 1,189 on Wednesday as the government coronavirus task force also reported 40,443 new infections in the last 24 hours.

The Far Eastern region of Kamchatka plans to start asking for a personal QR code that shows a person has been vaccinated or has recently recovered from the disease to access public transport in the region.

Other regions, such as Bashkiria, plan to use the QR code system after the end of the non-working days. Such personal code will be required to access shopping malls, cinemas and museums.

Moscow authorities, meanwhile, said businesses there would reopen on Monday.

"The spread of the disease has stabilised in terms of its detection and its severe forms requiring hospitalisation," RIA news agency quoted the capital's mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, as saying.

Other measures, including a requirement that companies have at least 30% of their staff work from home, would remain in place, Sobyanin said.

The health consumer watchdog in Moscow said it had recorded violations of COVID-19 regulations at more than a quarter of the businesses it inspected last week.

The Moscow region, which includes the small cities and towns surrounding the city, and the neighbouring Tula region also said they would not prolong the shutdown.

The Novgorod region announced on Monday it was extending its shutdown by a week. read more

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Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Gleb Stolyarov and Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by John Stonestreet and Alistair Bell

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