Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Kosovo to ease COVID-19-related lockdown from May 18; significant travel and business disruptions remain.

This alert affects Kosovo

This alert began 17 May 2020 20:53 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Coronavirus-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

Starting May 18, authorities in Kosovo plan to ease the curfew implemented as part of efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Although the nation's 24-hour curfew will remain in effect, residents will be permitted to leave their homes for two 120-minute periods a day to perform essential tasks, rather than two 90-minute periods as had earlier been the case. Essential workers are exempt from the curfew. The easing of the curfew is part of the government's COVID-19 recovery plan. Further restrictions on movement and businesses are slated to be rolled back from early June, depending on disease activity in the country.

The specific time frames during which residents may be outside their homes are allocated based on the next-to-last digit of the individual's national identification number for citizens, or passport number for foreign nationals. Individuals outside their residences during their assigned time slots may not be accompanied by another person, except in specifically defined cases. Moreover, all persons are required to wear facemasks or bandanas covering the mouth and nose while in public. Authorities have warned that individual violators could face fines of up to EUR 2,000 (USD 2200), while legal entities may be fined up to EUR 8,000 (USD 8800) for infractions.

Construction, real estate, and a limited number of other businesses have been to resume operation as of May 4; restaurants and cafes are permitted to provide takeout services. All commercial passenger flights to Pristina Airport (PRN) are suspended indefinitely; cargo, humanitarian, and repatriation flights continue to operate, however. Land borders are closed to all foreign nationals; Kosovo citizens arriving in the country are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Authorities could extend, reimpose, or otherwise amend any restrictions at any time based on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in recent weeks 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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