Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Serbia reintroduces tougher COVID-19-related restrictions in Belgrade and Novi Sad from July 10; additional areas likely to follow suit.

  • Alert Begins: 10 Jul 2020 03:45 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 16 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Serbia are reintroducing tougher restrictions in Belgrade and Novi Sad from July 10 in response to sharp upticks in COVID-19 infection rates. These new restrictions include:

 

  • A ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.

 

  • Catering establishments are limited to accepting one customer per four square meters (43 square feet) of floor space.

 

  • Public-facing businesses with no outdoor space must close at 2100; outdoor venues must close at 2300.

 

  • Face masks and social distancing of at least 1.5 meters are mandatory in public spaces.

 


Local authorities also recently declared states of emergency in multiple urban centers, including Kragujevac, Vranje, Novi Pazar, and Tutin; officials in these areas may impose similar restrictions or are likely to reintroduce them in coming days.

National authorities previously tightened COVID-19 restrictions June 24 due to the worsening epidemiological situation in the country. Face masks are mandatory on public transport and are recommended in public spaces, particularly shops, shopping centers, banks, post offices, and public institutions. Authorities have banned hospital visits. Authorities also recommend an increased social distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) between persons from different households where possible.

Since a state of emergency was lifted May 6, authorities have lifted numerous COVID-19 measures. Most nonessential businesses have been permitted to resume operations, including shopping malls, gyms, and restaurants, provided they follow strict hygiene requirements. Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG) has reopened for commercial flights, and limited domestic and international flights have resumed. Protective masks are mandatory for all flights. Travelers to Serbia are no longer required to produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country. Public transport has resumed in major cities. Intercity road and rail travel has resumed. Kindergartens have reopened.

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
While Serbia has previously taken steps to ease COVID-19 restrictions, authorities warned that restrictive measures could be reintroduced if disease activity in the country increases. Mandatory social distancing measures and use of facemasks in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

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
Heed all official advisories and remain nonconfrontational if stopped by authorities. Reconfirm all travel arrangements if traveling to, from, or via Serbia. Shipping disruptions may occur; consider delaying or rerouting shipments. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.

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 health precautions.


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