Sofia, 10 September 2021 (BTA/MIA) — Facing rising numbers of new COVID-19 infections in the past week, coupled with the challenge of in-person learning in the new school year, governments across the Balkans are resorting to a variety of measures to manage the situation:
TURKEY began to apply a new scheme of testing the unvaccinated as of Monday. Those who have not had COVID-19 have to present a negative PCR test to travel by plane, intercity bus, train or another type of transport. Otherwise access will be denied.
Local media reported this had boosted interest in vaccines and resulted in long queues in front of vaccination points.
The new school year with in-person classes for some 8 million students began on Sept. 6. Unvaccinated teachers and staff have to present a negative PCR test twice a week.
Last week the authorities also reported that the first cases of the new variant Mu have been registered in the country.
GREECE is also preparing a new series of measures to become effective on Monday, Sept. 13, and providing greater restrictions for the unvaccinated. Unvaccinated staff in the private and state sector will have to pay for their regular testing once a week.
Two rapid tests a week will be required of staff at schools and universities as well as in sectors where they have contact with a large number of people such as tourism, catering, television and theater.
Access to indoor parts of cafes and restaurants, as well as to clubs and sport halls will be denied without evidence of vaccination or of having had the disease.
Masks will be mandatory for all indoor public events, as well as for crowded outdoor spaces. The new measures will be in force until March 31, 2022.
The authorities also introduced vaccination in front of churches as part of a government program to promote vaccination.
ROMANIA‘s National Committee for Emergency Situations approved the extension by 60 days, as of Sept. 13, of the pilot project for using specially trained dogs to track down people infected with the coronavirus at the international airport in Sibiu. Persons who are suspected of being infected will be tested with a rapid test free of charge.
All school students will begin in-person classes on Sept. 13.
According to Romania’s updated list of high risk countries, as of 00:00 hrs on Sept. 12 Bulgaria is entering the “red zone.” Arrivals from Bulgaria to Romania will be subject to 14-day quarantine, with the exception of vaccinated or people who have had COVID-19.
ALBANIA announced it was extending vaccine mandates to now include the state administration and police, as well as pharmacists and lab workers. Earlier, mandatory vaccination was introduced for doctors, teachers and students over 18. The deadline for persons whom this decision concerns is Sept. 30.
Albania ranks among the countries in Europe with the lowest vaccination rate with just 22 percent fully vaccinated.
CROATIA‘s new school year started on Sept. 6 with in-person classes. Students have to wear masks in the hallways outside of their classrooms, and in school buses. Vaccinated teachers don’t have to wear masks in class, but unvaccinated ones have to, Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs explained.
CYPRUS also launched the school year with in-person instruction on Sept. 7, in keeping with strict antiepidemic measures. All persons above 12, including students, teachers and other staff, are required to present the so-called Safepass, which attests to vaccination, having the disease or a negative test taken within the last 72 hours. Students who do not present a Safepass will be recorded as absent without permissible excuse.
MONTENEGRO has become the country with the largest number of new infections per 100,000 among 52 European countries, European statistic centers say. Their data register a morbidity of 600.9 per 100,000. Next come Georgia, Kosovo, the United Kingdom and Serbia.
NORTH MACEDONIA‘s surge of new cases since mid-August continues. This has forced the government to introduce stricter social restrictions such as health passes for cafes and restaurants.
Most fatalities in July and August were registered in the cities with the lowest degree of vaccination, the health authorities said, once again urging everyone to get vaccinated.
SERBIA also reported a rising number of infections in the past week. Specialists advised the introduction of a COVID-19 pass, attesting to vaccination, recovery from the disease or a negative COVID-19 test. The country’s Crisis Staff will be deciding on the introduction at its meeting next week. The pass will be required for attendance of sport events, visits to the theater, cinema, restaurants, cafes and at weddings.