Like many countries, Russia is anxious for in-person meetings and events to resume to pre-COVID levels. In fact, there have been a few noteworthy events and programs in Russia in 2021. The country is also serious about COVID restrictions and policies, but most travelers are becoming accustomed to seeing them in place in most destinations.
The Russian borders are now open to more countries and the list continues to grow. The country is now issuing visas for a 6-month period instead of the usual one month. About 50 countries are now allowed to visit including the United States, the United Kingdom and Mexico. I suspect more countries will be added to the list during this year.
Pertaining to the pandemic, Russia has mandated COVID vaccination for all those working in the service industry. Masks are required in public spaces. Most restaurants are open for business but do require a mask and gloves upon entering, but not once seated. Most tourist hot spots are open, but there are social distancing requirements. Museums and exhibitions are open. Organizers or DMCs use special routes to avoid meeting several groups at the same place.
Also, streams of visitors are guided to different directions at the entrances by the staff. Almost all events, including sports and special tourist sites are limited to a capacity of 500 people. Since August 27th sporting events for up to 1,000 are now allowed in St. Petersburg.
Like many destinations, the requirements for in-person events are constantly changing and evolving so that more and more are allowed. Capacities are continuing to increase. It is wonderful to see Russia working to welcome more foreign visitors and hosting more in-person events.
However, currently in St. Petersburg, most events are limited to those of 75 or less, provided those attending can present a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours. Most events exceeding 75 are not allowed.
Hotels, especially in St. Petersburg are ready and COVID-equipped. They are in a constant state of sanitizing surfaces and making sure the ventilation systems are working well. Staff members do wear masks and hand sanitizer is readily available for guests. Meetings/events held at hotels will require social distancing.
St. Petersburg held on June the 24th Economic Forum attended by 13,000 and 140 countries. This forum’s focus is on issues of the utmost importance to emerging markets and the global economy. This was the first large convention to be held since the pandemic began.
Another traditional festival was also held this summer in St. Petersburg. The Scarlet Sails Festival attracted over 1,000 attendees. This is an annual event that celebrates high school graduation. It takes place along the Neva River and includes numerous concerts, elaborate fireworks, and a massive water show. The name, Scarlet Sails, is derived from a romantic novel by Alexander Grin, representing a symbol of hope and a new beginning.
Rusmice (www.rusmice.com) is a major DMC in Russia and their website has a plethora of information. So, if you are considering a future event or conference there, give them a shout. I personally, am excited about this, as Russia is on my bucket list. It is an amazing country with so much history and beautiful sites and architecture. It makes my soul happy to see such a huge destination re-opening. We are getting there, my friends!