Montenegro shortens curfew in cautious easing of coronavirus lockdown

BELGRADE, April 21 (Reuters) - Montenegrin health authorities said on Tuesday they would shorten a curfew and allow shops to work longer hours, cautiously easing a nationwide lockdown as the rate of coronavirus infections and deaths remained low.

The body tasked with combating infectious diseases in the small Adriatic country said the curfew which has been starting at 7PM on workdays and midday on weekends would now be operational between 11PM and 5AM throughout the week.

“Sports and physical activities are allowed ... with mandatory adherence to physical distance and all other prevention measures,” the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases said in a statement.

In March, Montenegro closed its borders, airports and sea ports, shut schools and banned all public gatherings and outdoor activities to curb spread of the virus.

The country has reported 313 infections among a population of 630,000. Five people have died and 90 recovered so far.

A day earlier, neighbouring and much larger Serbia also shortened its lockdown and allowed some businesses and construction sites across the country to reopen, following signs of a fall in the rate of infections. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)