Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Serbia reopen Belgrade Airport for commercial flights May 18. Other COVID-19-related restrictions remain in place.

This alert affects Serbia

This alert began 18 May 2020 17:07 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Easing of COVID restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: From May 18
  • Impact: Easing of COVID restrictions; business and travel disruptions remain

Summary
Serbian authorities reopened Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG) for commercial flights May 18 after previously closing in response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Several international routes have already resumed with Wizz Air (W6), while Air Serbia (JU) is expected to resume operations on May 21. BEG will likely operate with a severely reduced schedule in the short term; available flights to Belgrade may be filled out due to high demand from Serbians looking to return home. Facemasks are mandatory for all flights.

Previously, authorities lifted the state of emergency on May 6. The government has already eased some restrictions; the 1800-0500 curfew was lifted from 0500 May 7. Public transport restarted in Belgrade and Nis from May 8, and Novi Sad and Kragujevac from May 4. Passengers in all locations must wear face masks and gloves while using public transport. Shopping malls reopened from May 8. Kindergartens and schools were permitted to reopen from May 11. From May 4, a number of businesses, including restaurants, gyms, and beauty salons, were permitted to open provided they follow strict hygiene requirements. Intercity road and rail traffic has resumed.

A number of restrictions remain in place. Nonresident foreign nationals remain indefinitely barred from entering Serbia, with the exception of foreign truck drivers transporting freight. Public gatherings of more than 50 people remain banned. Numerous public spaces remain closed. Serbian residents entering the country must produce documentation of having tested negative for COVID-19 antibodies within 72 hours prior to arrival. Persons unable to produce such test results must self-isolate for 14 days upon entry. Residents who are in self-isolation may undergo a COVID-19 antibody test at an official laboratory and stop self-isolating if the result is negative.

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
Serbian authorities have taken steps to ease coronavirus-related restrictions in response to decreasing disease activity in the country. 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 basic health precautions.


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