COVID-19: North Macedonia, Romania Set Curfews; Serbia Extends Nighttime Restrictions

The government of North Macedonia says it has decided to impose a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning on March 22, the first time such a step has been taken since the country’s independence in 1991.

Countries throughout the world are instituting dramatic measures in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Many have put similar curfews in place, while other cities, states, and provinces have been ordered into near-lockdown conditions.

As of late March 21, research by the U.S. Johns Hopkins University showed that total infections worldwide had surpassed 300,000 while deaths neared 13,000.

The same research shows that North Macedonia had registered 85 cases and no deaths.

However, experts caution that it is impossible to get an accurate count of the number of infections because of the lack to testing in many places.

In an emergency address, North Macedonia’s prime minister, Oliver Spasovski, said that “we have decided to introduce the most radical measures in order to protect the health of citizens.”

“Starting [on March 22], we will restrict the movement of all citizens. It is forbidden for the population to move outside between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. every day. There is no compromise when it comes to the health of citizens,” Spasovski warned.

The prohibitions exclude persons who need medical assistance or whose lives are endangered. Those who need dialysis are allowed to arrive for treatment with up to two other people.

Employees in health-care facilities are also excluded from the curfew, as are members of the Ministry of Interior, the army, fire crews, and workers in municipal hygiene.

Romania

In Romania, the curfew will restrict the movement of people from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and go into effect on March 23. It is expected to last through the 30-day state of emergency declared on March 16.

Those exempted include people going to work and those requiring medical assistance.

Interior Minister Marcel Vela and other officials said the measures will also prohibit gatherings of more than three persons outside the home and will mandate the closing of shopping malls and dental clinics. Restaurants and other gathering places were ordered closed earlier in the week.

During the night curfew hours, the only people allowed to move about are medical professionals, those engaging in work activities, shopping for necessary items, and caring for children or the elderly or people walking their pets.

“Everything we have decided to implement is meant to limit the risks to the population,” Vela said.

He also warned those who are price-gouging or taking other actions to profit from the crisis.

“We have taken strong actions against those who have tried to speculate on the situation in order to get rich. It’s not just illegal — it’s also cynical,” he said.

Romania has registered 367 cases, but as of late on March 21, no deaths.

Serbia

President Aleksandar Vucic said the government will extend a curfew that is already in effect by three hours as Serbia attempts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, making it a 12-hour ban from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.

He said the steps were necessary “for our survival,” and he threatened a 24-hour curfew if residents continued to ignore orders to remain indoors.

Serbia has registered 171 cases of the coronavirus and one death as of late on March 21.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Balkan and Romanian services, Reuters, and AP
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