Kosovo is in a double-bind when it comes to lock-down: the Serbian government gave them the all-clear on 7 May, but Kosovo’s government waited until today, 1 June, to call an end to the national state of emergency.

So far, only 50 per cent of UN members recognise Kosovo’s independence and it is still considered part of Serbia by the Serbian government. This has led to the implementation of a double set of pandemic measures, which people often found confusing to follow.

I spoke with Ivan Vuckovic, a journalist at Radio-Television Kosovo (RTK2) and online magazine Kossev, to find out more about this unusual situation.

Two different sets of rules

Immediately after the WHO declared a pandemic, Kosovo authorities took all the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. They put together a Crisis Staff, formed of doctors, government officials and high-ranking local business owners.

The first measures to be introduced came from the Serbian government, followed, a few days later, by a second set of guidelines from Kosovo lawmakers. The two differed in curfew timetables, among other things, leaving citizens confused.

All for health

The municipality of Leposavic opened a special covid-19 policlinic, available to citizens 24 hours a day. It followed the guidelines set by the Serbian Ministry of Health and is in good working condition.

Doctors in local Health Centres were open to the media for the entire duration of the state of emergency, sharing all the necessary information.

Likewise, citizens were disciplined and complied with lock-down rules and movement restrictions. Those over the age of 65 didn’t leave their homes in accordance with instructions from the Serbian government. Red Cross and Crisis Staff volunteers took care to provide them with all the necessities, so they could continue sheltering in place.

Similarly to other parts of the world, restaurants have closed down and the only businesses remaining open are shops and supermarkets.

All workers in public companies have been put on furlough and only some small companies operated through the lock-down.

As all borders with Serbia were closed, the biggest issue was that of medical supply, which used to be brought in from Raska District in Serbia.

Almost back to normal

In recent days, life in Kosovo has largely returned to normal. The measures imposed by our government were milder, but helped us be able to end the lock-down as of today.

Most companies and public institutions are reopening and we’re expecting even international flights to pick up again soon.

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