New measures introduced in effort to contain COVID-19

New freedom of movement restrictions have been introduced for over 65s and vulnerable groups, but operating hours are extended for bars, cafes and restaurants, while a proposed 7-day self isolation policy for citizens entering from Albania has been abandoned.

The Kosovo Government held an electronic meeting on Tuesday, in which it reviewed the measures in place to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. 

With the new decision approved on Tuesday night, the curfew in place since 6 July has been pushed back by 90 minutes, with movement now restricted between 22:30 and 05:00. The curfew is now being applied in the municipalities of Prishtina, Prizren, Peja, Podujevo, Gjakova, Ferizaj, Lipjan, Drenas, Vushtrri, South Mitrovica, Gjilan, Fushe Kosove and Strpce. 

Bars, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs have also had their permitted hours of operation extended to between 05:00 and 22:30. Outside of this schedule, these businesses are still permitted to work outdoors, provided they can adhere to a distance of more than two metres between tables.

However, a new measure introduced on Tuesday further restricts the movement of citizens over the age of 65 and citizens suffering from chronic illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and chronic lung disease. These groups are now able to move freely in public only between 05:00-10:00 and 18:00-21:00.

While movement of people has not been uniformly restricted, all residents of Kosovo are obliged to wear face masks and keep a physical distance of two metres, including in the workplace. 

As per the new decision, gatherings of more than five people have been banned in public places, including city squares and parks, as have all larger public gatherings, including private family events. 

All sporting, recreational and cultural activities have also been prohibited, although gyms and indoor swimming pools will continue to be allowed to operate if they are in line with the government’s COVID-19 manual. Kindergartens have also been permitted to reopen as long as they adhere to the guidelines in the manual, with decisions on such matters to be taken by the relevant municipal authorities.

Ahead of the Eid-al-Adha festival on Friday, physical participation in religious ceremonies has also been banned, as have all public markets involving the sales of vehicles and animals and the slaughter of animals outside of authorised premises. 

The Kosovo Government has also made it mandatory for all citizens of Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina entering Kosovo to present a negative test result for coronavirus prior to their entry into Kosovo.

It was reported that the Kosovo Government was also set to impose a seven-day period of self-isolation for all residents of Kosovo returning from Albania unless they could provide a negative coronavirus test result. However, the proposal appears to have been dropped following public criticism, including from Minister for Foreign Affairs Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla.

“Proposals to increase the measures by requesting a negative test for entry from the border with Albania are absurd, to say the least,” Haradinaj-Stublla stated in a Facebook post. “The logic of total border isolation has only brought harm, especially to those who need health treatment outside Kosovo! I will vote AGAINST this proposal.”

The National Institute of Public Health confirmed on Tuesday that in the past 24 hours, 401 tests were conducted for coronavirus, with 239 resulting positive. 

Kosovo currently has 3,331 active recorded coronavirus cases across the country, while the Hospital and University Clinical Service of Kosovo reported on Tuesday that of the 608 patients currently in Kosovo’s hospitals, 414 are confirmed to have COVID-19.

Seven people that had tested positive for the virus are reported to have died in the last 24 hours, bringing the confirmed total of COVID-19 related deaths in Kosovo to 192.

28/07/2020 - 22:32

28 July 2020 - 22:32

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.