TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania, which already began this week to loosen some of the tightest coronavirus restrictions in Europe, will let some more shops, courts and taxis resume business beginning next week, provided that they meet hygiene and social distancing standards.
Albania has officially recorded 27 deaths from the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus. It has ordered most people confined to their homes for most of the day, but this week it eased restrictions to allow 600 types of activities, from fishing to mining.
Albanians must register on an app for permission to shop for essentials, for no more than 90 minutes per day.
Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu said that if the data on new cases remains stable, that would be extended to 2 1/2 hours per day. Among businesses that would be re-opened next week, she listed clothes, shoes, textiles, furniture, lighting, electronic equipment and flower retailers. Taxis would be permitted to drive but only between towns and only with a single passenger.
After that, moves to re-open the economy would be taken in two-week stages, provided there was no surge in new cases, hospitalisations or use of intensive care units. Lockdown measures could be re-applied as an “emergency brake” if necessary.
“Any business already open and those that will be opened will be legally bound to apply protocols for the safety of workers, otherwise they will incur penalties from the task-force being set up to monitor the new rules,” she added.
Businesses with a higher risk of spreading the virus, such as garments workshops, will be monitored by the health ministry. The opposition called for such workshops to be shut down after 18 fresh cases were reported on Wednesday in a town near Tirana.
(Reporting by Benet Koleka; Editing by Peter Graff)