Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Kosovo ease some COVID-19 restrictions as of May 4; significant travel and business disruptions remain.

This alert affects Kosovo

This alert began 04 May 2020 16:20 GMT and is scheduled to expire 18 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Coronavirus-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Date: May 4
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

Authorities in Kosovo eased some of the restrictions introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from May 4. The nation's 24-hour curfew remains in effect; however, residents are now permitted to leave their homes for two 90-minute periods a day to perform essential tasks. The easing of these restrictions is part of the government's three-step plan for stepping back on COVID-19 restrictions; the measures in place from May 4 are the first step. Dependent upon the evolution of disease activity in the country, further restrictions on movement and businesses will be eased on May 18 and June 1.

The specific time frames during which residents may be outside their homes are allocated based on the penultimate digit of the individual's national identification number for citizens, or the penultimate digit of the person's passport number for foreign nationals. These time frames can be found in the Time Frame Discovery section of the Kosovo Ministry of Health's website. 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 a face mask or bandanna covering the mouth and nose while in public. Essential workers are exempt from the curfew. Authorities have warned that individuals could face fines of up to EUR 2,000 (USD 2200) for violating the regulation, while legal entities could be fined up to EUR 8,000 (USD 8800) for infractions.

Additionally, construction, real estate, and limited additional businesses are permitted to resume operation, and restaurants and cafes are permitted to provide takeout services, as of May 4. Previous restrictions remain in effect through at least May 18. Land borders are closed to all foreign nationals, and Kosovo citizens arriving in the country are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar 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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