Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Albania to slightly ease nationwide coronavirus-related lockdown starting April 13. Severe transport and business disruptions to continue.

This alert affects Albania

This alert began 10 Apr 2020 21:11 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Albanian authorities plan to slightly ease the nationwide lockdown they have implemented as part of the country's efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As of April 13, the daily curfew hours will be reduced by 4.5 hours to 1730-0500, with time that residents may be outside to perform essential tasks during noncurfew hours being increased to 1.5 hours per day. Prior to the new edict, daily curfew hours were 1300-0500, with residents being allowed outside their homes for only one hour per day during noncurfew hours. The total weekend curfews, which have been beginning at 1300 each Friday and ending at 0500 each Monday, will remain in effect; the 40-hour weekend curfew slated for 1300 April 10-0500 April 13 will take place as scheduled.

During curfew hours, pedestrian and vehicular movement not related to the provision of emergency services or the supply of essential goods is forbidden. 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 1.5 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. Ferry services with Greece and Italy have been suspended. The transportation of goods continues. 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.

Advice
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.

Resources
e-Albania Exit Permit site: e-Albania.al

World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int