No lockdown, but no public gatherings: Serbia introduces new anti-coronavirus restrictions amid protests
The Serbian government has ruled against imposing a new lockdown in Belgrade but has banned public gatherings of more than 10 people following two days of violent protests.
The decision to refrain from another lockdown, such as the one that was in force in the Serbian capital during March and April, was made after “a very long session” of the government, the country’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic announced.
However, the return of some restrictions couldn’t be avoided, she said, pointing out that the rules wouldn’t apply to the whole of Serbia but would only target areas where “the situation is unstable.”
One such area is Belgrade, where “a complete ban on organized public gatherings for more than ten people outdoors and indoors” has been declared, the PM said.
Shops will remain open in the city, but their working hours will be reduced, she added.
These measures are “time-limited” and will be lifted as soon as conditions improve, Brnabic clarified.
Serbia has so far registered more than 17,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 340 deaths, with 11 of them in last 24 hours.
The news that the lockdown may be reinstated in Belgrade due to a new spike in Covid-19 cases has triggered two nights of violent protests in the city.
The clashes on Wednesday saw the rioters tossing flares and stones at the police, who responded with tear gas. Ten officers were wounded, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said, though he did not elaborate on injuries or arrests among the protesters.
In his earlier address to the nation, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the protests were hijacked by far-right radicals and had nothing to do with the lockdown. He also insisted that “political violence” has been influenced from abroad.
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