Despite a new increase in the number of infected, no harsher measures in the Western Balkans

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In contrast to the start of the health crisis in March, when most countries in the region rushed to impose severe movement restrictions, despite the second rise in infections and fatalities, there measures are currently not being reimposed.

Governments in the region seem determined to maintain ‘business as usual’ and not restore restrictions, even though the number of COVID-19 infections is on the rise again.

Authorities says citizens, employers and the owners of bars and shops need to respect and enforce recommended measures more strictly, and those new tough restrictions will be imposed if the situation deteriorates.

North Macedonia heading into elections

Despite the resurgence of infections in North Macedonia, which over the last two weeks reached a new peak, higher even than during April, most public debates now revolve around preparations for recently scheduled early general elections on 15 July.

According to US Embassy in North Macedonia, Government announced the opening of North Macedonia’s border crossings effective 26 June 26. As of 26 June, there are no requirements for a PCR test or isolation for entering North Macedonia.

The country currently has 5595 active cases, and 265 fatalities but authorities insist numbers will start falling shortly, and do not advise reinstating already scrapped movement restrictions.

Health Minister Venko Filipče said that the situation is under control, adding that said hospital capacities were still far from full – but admitted that the situation is serious, and needs constant monitoring.

Montenegro not virus-free after all

Montenegro was considered most effective in the fight against COVID-19 are also finding out that she cannot declare victory just yet.

Montenegro, which was officially pronounced corona-free, on last Wednesday recorded seven new infections.

The authorities insist that the infection entered the country through people who recently visited neighbouring Serbia.

After the authorities banned all public gatherings on health grounds, the Serbian Orthodox Church has accused the government of abusing the pandemic to curb its continued open-air protests.

The National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases announced that open-air religious gatherings would be prohibited unless they took place on church premises. The same body also banned political gatherings in open spaces, Vijesti reported. 

According to data so far, the country currently has 87 active infected cases and 9 fatalities.

After elections in Serbia, the number of new infections on the rise

While North Macedonia prepares for elections Serbia last Sunday concluded its elections process, at least mostly.

Serbia’s authorities were among the first to impose curfews in March, but are also now among the first to allow mass gatherings, although the number of infections has started to rise again.

According to data available so far, during this week, the number of new infections revolved around 150.

Despite this, Serbia has scrapped curfews, opened borders and allowed mass gatherings in open spaces, and of up to 500 people in closed spaces, without the mandatory wearing of protective equipment.

On 10 June, Belgrade hosted a football match between local rivals Red Star and Partisan, which attracted some 25,000 fans.

Epidemiologist Zoran Radovanovic, who during the state of emergency was often critical of Crisis Staff decisions, told Nova.rs media on Tuesday that Serbia had become “the most tolerant (state) in Europe”, in terms of what is allowed.

Serbia has also stopped testing people who were in contact with confirmed cases and is now testing only those showing symptoms.

In Albania zero-tolerance policy towards those who fail to comply with measures

Daily life in Albania has returned to normal and everyday life will be no longer controlled by police. Each one of the pandemic restrictions has been lifted.

The Ministry of Health of Albania monitors and holds the daily press conferences on the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Albanian Daily News, on 22 June Tirana International Airport was allowed to start broad operations of regular international flights. Maritime transport was allowed to resume for all international passenger transport lines.

The country currently has 2192 active infected cases and 48 fatalities.

As the situation continued, on 19 June, the government announced increased monitoring of the measures, keeping distance, wearing masks and a zero-tolerance policy towards those who fail to comply.