Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Kosovo tightens COVID-19 restrictions from July 29; nightly 2230-0500 curfew imposed in 13 cities; gatherings of more than five banned.

  • Alert Begins: 29 Jul 2020 06:17 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 21 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Kosovo have tightened coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions from July 29 due to an increase in infections. A nightly 2230-0500 curfew will be imposed in Drenas, Ferizaj, Fushe Kosove, Gjakova, Gjilan, Lipjan, Prishtina, Prizren, Peja, Podujeva, South Mitrovica, Shtrpce, and Vushtrri; all nonessential movement is prohibited during that period. Elderly citizens (over the age of 65) and citizens with chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, chronic lung disease, patients with kidney disease, patients with suppressed immunity, oncology patients, etc.) are allowed to be in public places only 0500-1000 and 1800-2100.

In addition, all nationwide private, and public gatherings are limited to five people; protective face coverings and social distancing are mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces. Additionally all religious, cultural, recreational, and sport activities are temporarily prohibited with the exception of individual sports, including indoor swimming. Furthermore, nationwide cafes, restaurants, and bars are prohibited from operating 2230-0500,

Authorities are requiring citizens of North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro to provide a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no older than 72 hours if entering Kosovo by land from July 13. Travelers transiting through Kosovo, as long as they leave Kosovo within three hours of entry, as well as travelers arriving at the Pristina International Airport (PRN) who are willing to sign a statement promising to leave Kosovo within three hours, are exempt.

The imposition of these restrictions follows a series of measures aimed at easing restrictions allowing many nonessential businesses to reopen. Pristina Airport (PRN) reopened June 28 following a three-month closure in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. As of the same date, the government also lifted its ban on air and land travel from countries with high and medium risks of COVID-19. Although the official requirement to do so was lifted June 8, authorities continue to recommend that all arriving travelers have proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous four days upon entry. All of Kosovo's land border crossings have been reopened since early June.

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

Background and Analysis
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.

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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