North Macedonia reimposes restrictions as COVID-19 resurges

A couple wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, walk under an electoral poster of the leader of the ruling Social Democrats Zoran Zaev, in a street in Skopje, North Macedonia on Saturday, July 11, 2020. North Macedonia holds its first parliamentary election under its new country name this week, with voters heading to the polls during an alarming spike of coronavirus cases in the small Balkan nation.

North Macedonia has reimposed restrictions on access to cafes, restaurants and public events in a bid to subdue a fresh spike in COVID-19 infections and nudge citizens to get vaccinated, prompting public anger and protests.

From Monday, those who want to go to restaurants, concerts or any public events will have to show a certificate of at least one COVID-19 vaccination or of recovery from the disease within the past 45 days.

Only open-air parts of restaurants and cafes will be open and customer numbers will be limited to 30, the government said, adding that owners would have to provide security guards to check compliance with the measures.

The government has also introduced hefty fines for those who disobey the measures, ranging from 250 euros for individuals to up to 30,000 euros for legal entities depending their size.

Around 2,000 people protested against the measures on Sunday evening in the capital Skopje, burning protection masks and calling for the resignation of top government officials.

The restrictions follow a sudden rise in the number of coronavirus cases after previous curbs were eased in the small Balkan republic, with 3,497 new infections reported over the past week and 807 on Sunday alone, with 10 recorded deaths.

Health Minister Venko Filipce said only 10% of newly infected people had been vaccinated. A little over 1 million of Macedonia’s 2 million people have received at least one dose of vaccine.

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