Health News

Montenegro introduces curfew, Serbia to issue fines to counter coronavirus

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Montenegro introduced a two-week overnight lockdown on Friday to rein in a major spike in coronavirus infections, while neighbouring Serbia began fining people who fail to comply with the government’s protective measures.

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask walks in an underpass, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Belgrade, Serbia, November 4, 2020. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

All Montenegrins will be banned from leaving their homes between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for essential work and “medical and humanitarian needs,” the country’s health minister Kenan Hrapovic told a news conference.

“These measures will be in force until December 1 with the possibility of an extension,” Hrapovic said.

The government of the small Adriatic republic also banned non-essential travel between municipalities at weekends and most public gatherings including religious and family festivities.

So far 26,109 people in Montenegro, which has a population of only 622,000, have fallen ill with the COVID-19 disease and 377 have died from it.

In much larger Serbia, which on Thursday amended legislation meant to combat contagious diseases, authorities will fine anyone not wearing a face mask indoors or who fails to maintain social distancing indoors or outdoors.

The 5,000 dinars ($50) fine for ordinary citizens is a hefty penalty in a country where the average monthly wage is $570.

Companies, restaurants and shops that fail to comply with sanitary rules imposed by the government, including keeping a distance between employees or customers and the wearing of face masks, could face fines of 50,000-300,000 dinars.

Serbia did not impose restrictions such as curfews and travel bans.

The former Yugoslav republic, with a population of around 7 million, has recorded 77,264 cases of COVID-19 and 972 deaths during the pandemic.

The amended law also allows the health ministry to introduce mandatory vaccination of the entire population or specific groups.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Toby Chopra