Several countries across Southeast Europe have announced a further easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions with the lighter rules kicking in from June 1.
The easing comes as the number of new cases has fallen sharply, boding well for a revival of economic growth after the severe wave of the virus that struck much of the region — and the European continent — this spring.
New COVID-19 cases per million population. Source: WHO, World Bank.
Contributing to this is the process made with vaccination in the region, albeit after a slow start as governments of several countries struggled to secure vaccines.
North Macedonia will further ease coronavirus-related restrictions, allowing wedding celebrations outdoors and abolishing mandatory wearing of masks in open spaces, local media reported on May 31, a day on which only three new COVID-19 infections were registered. Most days the previous week, around 50 new cases were reported.
Employees in the public administration will return to work full time, and will no longer be required to work from home or in shifts. However, the overnight curfew from midnight to 5 am will remain in force.
In Albania, a gradual easing is planned over the coming month. As in North Macedonia, the number of new cases has been falling recently, and from June 1, people no longer have to wear a mask in open public spaces, though masks will be required in closed spaces including public transport.
The overnight curfew will be reduced, with Albanians allowed to stay out until 11pm, though bars and clubs will remain closed. Further easing is expected on June 15 and July 1 if new cases remain low.
Kosovo relaxed restrictions from May 31, scrapping the overnight curfew and restrictions on travel within the country. Up to 50 people are now allowed to attend indoor gatherings and 100 can meet outdoors provided physical distancing is respected, though weddings and other organised celebrations will only be allowed to resume after June 15 if the situation permits. Bars and restaurants can now stay open until 11pm.
Serbia lifted some COVID-19 restrictions on June 1, allowing people to eat out indoors or outdoors until midnight. Among the other changes, up to 200 people can now attend business or scientific conferences.
Montenegro is also easing coronavirus-related restrictions, as announced by Health Minister Jelena Borovinic Bojovic, who told a press conference on May 28 that the situation has been improving for weeks. Outdoor gatherings are now allowed with up to 50 people, while spectators can return to sporting events. However, only up to 10% of the seats can be occupied.