Moscow will give away free cars to people who get COVID vaccine

MOSCOW — Moscow will give away cars in a prize draw for residents who get the COVID-19 shot in an effort to speed up the slow rate of vaccinations, its mayor said on Sunday, as officials brought in curbs to halt a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Russian capital reported 7,704 new infections on Sunday, the most in a single day since Dec. 24. Authorities confirmed 14,723 cases nationwide, the largest one-day total since Feb. 13.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that anyone over 18 who receives the first of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine from June 14 until July 11 would now be automatically entered into a draw to win a car.

He said five cars worth 1 million roubles ($13,900) each would be given away every week.

Sobyanin has publicly lamented how few residents have chosen to get the vaccine. He gave no new figures on Sunday for how many have had the shot, but said on May 21 that 1.3 million out of a population of more than 12 million had received one dose.

Sobyanin said on Saturday the city was repurposing thousands of hospital beds for an influx of COVID-19 patients and told residents to stay off work this coming week to help curb the spread of the virus.

Sports pitches, playgrounds and other attractions inside large parks were set to be closed for a week from Sunday. Bars and restaurants were ordered to close no later than 11pm.

“This is only a temporary solution,” Sobyanin said in a follow-up blog on Sunday. “To avoid new restrictions and secure a sustainable improvement of the situation, we need to significantly speed up vaccinations.”

Russia began rolling out its Sputnik V shot in December and it was rapidly opened up to everyone in Moscow.

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