Russian state controlled gas monopoly Gazprom is preparing to lift some of the restrictions introduced at West Siberian gas producing installations last year in response to the global outbreak of Covid-19.
Two of its key regional subsidiaries — Gazpromdobycha Yamburg and Gazpromdobycha Urengoy — said a requirement for incoming shift workers to stay in a two-week quarantine will be scrapped due to evidence that the workforce is reaching so-called “herd immunity” against coronavirus.
According to Gazprom, 70% of workers must show antibodies to Covid-19 for the company to declare that the herd immunity target has been reached.
Gazpromdobycha Yamburg said recent estimates showed that about 40% of its workers in the Yamal-Nenets region are immune to coronavirus due to previously contracting the virus and subsequently recovering.
Another 15% of employees have been vaccinated using Russian-made vaccines, the company stated, claiming that about 1500 more workers need to receive vaccination for the immunity target to be achieved
Gazpromdobycha Urengoy said separately that about half of its personnel have attained immune to Covid-19, but provided no numbers for vaccinated employees.
Earlier this month, the subsidiary set 1 May as the date for returning to pre-Covid work schedules featuring one-month shifts.
The duration of active shifts was lengthened to three months at Gazprom’s gas installations in the second quarter of last year, in response to rising numbers of Covid-19 infections.
Gazpromdobycha Urengoy has also told employees that from 1 May, their two-week quarantine will be counted against their rest time of one month.
A significant number of shift workers employed by Gazprom’s contractors have also used Russian social media networks to complain that they are not being paid properly while remaining in the mandatory quarantine on arrival.
Both subsidiaries said earlier that they have to bear additional costs for arranging accommodation for quarantined workers, with limited accommodation options available for large groups of employees.
Both subsidiaries said that they will still require workers to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, although some Russian social media reports have suggested that neither company is enforcing these rules very strictly.
Earlier in February, Gazprom had ordered most of its remote-working employees to return to the company's offices from 1 March.