European Western Balkans

WB governments continue to deal with health and economic consequences of COVID-19

Laboratory; Photo: Pixabay

Around the world,  the number of coronavirus deaths topped 74,000 as another grim milestone was reached with more than one million confirmed infections. The United States reported the highest daily death toll of any country so far at nearly 1,200. It now has more than 6,000 fatalities as the contagion rapidly spreads.

According to data available so far, the Western Balkans countries reported more than 5600 cases of COVID-19 virus infection. Governments are taking sharper measures.

North Macedonia will bring in stricter restrictions on movement starting on Wednesday, with people being allowed to go outside only from 5 am until 4 pm. At weekends, the curfew will run from Friday at 4 pm right through to Monday at 5 am. The government decided to toughen the measures after the number of coronavirus cases in the country reached 570 on Monday, with 15 newly-registered cases in the past 24 hours.

Several municipalities across Kosovo closed squares on Monday after concerns were raised that people might gather there outside curfew hours.

In Serbia, new curfew measures were introduced, lasting from Saturday at 1 pm until Monday 5 am . Asked about the possibility of 24-hour curfew, Vučić said that he “wouldn’t think for a second if the experts say it was necessary.”

Emergency headquarters in Republika Srpska entity of BiH adopted a conclusion banning the movement of citizens outside their place of residence over the weekend, with the aim of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. The ban applies from Saturday noon to Sunday at 6 pm.

Private sector in WB  affected by COVID-19; Governments adopted plans to recover the economy

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed private-sector workers in the Balkans to sudden job losses, salary cuts and forced unpaid leave as rights violations stack up.

Bosnia’s Federation entity adopted a law on on 3 April aimed at bolstering the economy amid the coronavirus crisis.

According to Balkan Insight, the Federation entity government will pay the minimum wage to all employees in the private sector and secure additional funds for cantons and municipalities for activities that could boost the economy.

Some 45 million euros will be used by the Federation’s development bank to set up a guarantee fund to support the liquidity of small- and medium-sized businesses.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama told that a government decree will cancel monthly rents for small businesses and families whose members have lost jobs during the pandemic lockdown.

“Renters are banned from collecting monthly rents to these subjects or will face a fine that is five times higher than the rent,” Rama wrote on his Facebook profile.

Serbia’s Finance Minister Siniša Mali announced on 30 March that the Government would pay the first aid to small and middle-size companies as of mid-May in the amount of an average wage.

Besides, every citizen will get 100 Euro after the end of the state of emergency, he adds.

Mali said that the Government’s aid package would be 5.1 billion Euro and would include tax policy, direct aid to employees mostly in the private sector and support of the financial liquidity. He announced additional measures for the most affected in the pandemic if the crises continued.

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