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.
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)