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Moscow introduces QR-code contact tracing to monitor COVID-19’s nightlife spread

Feeling cool? Itching to show off your hip moves at the nearest discotheque, bar, or other entertainment venue? In Moscow, according to new executive orders issued by Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, you’ll need to register a telephone number with the city by scanning a QR code or sending a text message to 7377 in order to strut your stuff between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

The city’s coronavirus task force says the new experiment is intended as a contact-tracing effort, not a curb on movement. In effect from October 19 to at least November 1, the new system will make it possible to notify Muscovites who participate in the capital’s nightlife when they may have risked contact with an infected person and urge them to get tested for COVID-19.

The latest implementation of QR codes in Moscow’s fight against the coronavirus is not a voluntary program. Those caught partying hardy during the designated hours without registering with the city face fines as high as 500,000 rubles ($6,400), according to Alexey Nemeryuk, a senior official in the mayor’s administration. 

Russia is currently battling its second wave of coronavirus infections. According to official statistics, the outbreak is again worst in Moscow, where Mayor Sobyanin has already required all employers to transfer roughly a third of their employees to remote work. All senior citizens and chronically ill persons have also been ordered to work from home remotely. Moscow school officials recently suspended all in-class instruction for at least two weeks.