Virus Restrictions Tighten Across Balkans After Djokovic Shock

Countries across the Balkans are tightening measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic in response to a resurgence in infections that included some of the region’s most famous athletes, world tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic and basketball star Nikola Jokic.

Croatia is requiring quarantine for visitors from four countries in southeast Europe and will again make masks mandatory on public transport. Slovenia, which last month declared its epidemic over, reintroduced compulsory masks for indoor public spaces, while Bulgaria on Monday tightened measures because of a spike in cases and has extended its emergency. Romania may reverse a plan to allow restaurants to open starting next week.

Most Balkan nations, along with the rest of eastern Europe, have been among the most successful in fighting the Covid-19 outbreak, thanks to governments quickly introducing some of the most draconian lockdown measures. They were also among the first ones in Europe to reopen their economies, especially with elections campaigns hitting their stride in several countries.

Virus Restrictions Tighten Across Balkans After Djokovic Shock

The travel restrictions are especially painful for tourism-dependent Croatia, which hosted one of the events of Djokovic’s now-canceled tournament. The government in Zagreb reinstated a two-week quarantine for visitors from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia. Romanian Economy Minister Virgil Popescu told local Digi24 TV late on Tuesday that a plan for further easing, such as allowing restaurants to open from July 1 may be delayed because of the new spike in cases.

Slovenia also added curbs to travelers from several countries, having already tightened rules last week. The government in Bulgaria, where a mask requirement and curbs on mass event were reintroduced Monday, extended a so-called emergency epidemic situation, a special status designed to give more powers to the health minister to apply epidemic restrictions, by 2 weeks to July 15.

The latest coronavirus statistics for countries in the Balkans:

  • Croatia reported 22 new cases Wednesday, bringing the total positive cases to 2,388. Deaths remained unchanged at 107.
  • Romania reported 321 new covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the most since June 20, bringing the total to 24,826. The number of fatalities also increased to a total of 1,555 after reporting 16 new deaths on Wednesday.
  • With 130 new cases -- the second-highest number since the start of the pandemic -- Bulgaria recorded a total of 4,114 infected on Wednesday. Deaths are at 208, with 1 new in the last 24 hours.
  • Slovenia reported 20 new cases in the last two days, bringing its total to 1,541, after an average of 3.6 the previous five. With no new fatalities, its death count stands at 111.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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