Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Albania continues to ease coronavirus-related lockdown since April 27. Severe business and travel disruptions remain.

This alert affects Albania

This alert began 29 Apr 2020 16:10 GMT and is scheduled to expire 13 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Date: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Albanian authorities continue to ease the nationwide lockdown they have implemented as part of the country's effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Since April 27, the time residents may be outside to perform tasks has increased to two hours per day, though the daily curfew remains in effect 1730-0500. Additionally, weekend curfews remain in effect from 1300 Fridays-0500 Mondays for most; authorities permit the elderly to be outside Saturdays until 1100, and mothers and children to be outside Sundays until 1100. Furthermore, as of April 27, a limited number of nonessential businesses are permitted to reopen, and taxis are permitted to operate in cities, provided they adhere to strict hygiene measures.

During curfew hours, authorities forbid pedestrian and vehicular movement not related to the provision of emergency services or the supply of essential goods. All residents, except emergency services and armed forces personnel, must remain in their homes, and all businesses and social venues must close, including supermarkets, pharmacies, and places of worship. Violations are punishable by a fine and/or incarceration. Security forces have deployed heavily to enforce the lockdown.

Outside of curfew hours, only one person per household is allowed outside for the stipulated two hours daily in order to purchase food or other essential supplies; individuals exiting their homes for this purpose must possess a special exit permit, which can be obtained online or by telephone.

Authorities may introduce new measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in addition to those already in place. The Albanian Civil Aviation Authority suspended all international flights at Tirana International Airport (TIA) from 23 March; cargo, humanitarian, and repatriation flights will continue. All ports of entry have closed indefinitely. Officials have suspended ferry services with Greece and Italy. The transportation of goods continues. Many nonessential businesses, nonessential public offices, public parks, museums, cinemas, and schools will remain closed indefinitely; only pharmacies, supermarkets, and other fresh produce stores will open outside lockdown hours. There are widespread restrictions on inter- and intra-city travel nationwide. The recent loosening of the curfew and movement restrictions is unlikely to significantly ease the severity of business and travel disruptions in Albania.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Albanian government are significantly stricter than those taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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