COVID-19 IN THE BALKANS
Covid-19, a respiratory disease, which had its origin in Wuhan, China in December 2019, has now spread globally. Inevitably, the Balkan region makes no exception. The outbreak of this virus evolves rapidly with new cases every day, but as of the 9th of April, the statistics show as follows:
For further information regarding travel in the Balkans, visit the following websites:
Bosnia & Herzegovina: http://www.mvp.gov.ba/default.aspx?pageIndex=1
North Macedonia: https://www.mfa.gov.mk/en
COVID-19 IN ALBANIA
In Albania, the number of infected people has decreased tremendously from 1000-1200 people/day to 200-250 people/day and the number of lost lives is about 5-6 people/day.The cities with the reported cases are as listed below:
Following the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Albanian government started to take some measures in order to slow down the spread of the disease. The government presented a few prevention measures regarding tourism this year.
For further information about travel in Albania, click here.
COVID-19 Prevention Measures in Albania and Balkans
Schools, public gatherings and quarantine
Primary schools and high schools continue classes regularly following strict rules. Meanwhile, all universities continue their online classes. Currently, citizens cannot go out from 22:00 until 06:00 and they wear a mask wherever they go. Otherwise, if they are caught without a mask they will have to pay fines.
National Lock Down
Currently, all those who work in administration and public institutions have returned to their workplace, following some rules. Supermarkets, stores, and drugstores, bars, and restaurants are open until 22:00 but they must follow social distancing rules and everyone should have masks.
Transport & Travel
Finally, private cars are allowed and individuals can travel freely. Also, public transportation has restarted with certain rules to follow. Borders are open for foreign citizens who want to enter/leave Albania, meanwhile Albanian citizens are only allowed to travel to a few countries. The only country with restrictions is Great Britain. The Ministry of Health suspended all direct civilian air traffic to and from Great Britain until further notice. All travelers who enter Albania from Great Britain by air, land, or sea, are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Currently, there are no restrictions for other countries in Europe, so anyone visiting Albania does not need a PCR negative test when entering the country or to be self-isolated. As stated by the Prime Minister, it will not be necessary to have a vaccination passport to enter Albania. First charter flights and tourists from Ukraina and Belarus are expected to start on April, 24th, several weekly flights from several destinations, and the Israir brand from Telaviv, will start by April 3rd with 3 flights a week and a 4th flight by end of June 2021. Many other markets will resume from May.
As for other Balkan countries, entry restrictions are shown in the map below:
Testing & Vaccination
Individuals who want to get tested can arrange private testing by going to a private testing lab. No symptoms or doctor’s order is required to arrange a private test, and no appointment is necessary. The average cost for testing is: (PCR = 8,500 ALL or ~70 Euro) – (Antigen = 4,000 ALL or ~35 Euro). It is best to check with each lab about the cost of testing.
As for vaccination, Albania has received 9550 doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and 15500 Pfizer vaccines arrived on March 2nd, 2021. The vaccine is free of charge and medical personnel in all four COVID-19 hospitals in Tirana and other regional hospitals were the first to get vaccinated. According to Albanian health authorities, the government has contracted to get 500,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. All medical staff has been vaccinated and in the meantime, the vaccination of teachers has started as well. It is expected that soon will start the vaccination of tourism and services personnel. Albania also received 1 million vaccines from China, Russia, and AstraZeneca. It is planned that the medical staff will be handling 15000 patient vaccinations per day and the aim is to have around 500000 vaccinated individuals until May and reach full immunization of the population by June 2021. That is why it is expected to have a normal touristic season by the end of May. On April 14th, we have will have 268000 vaccinated citizens. In the next few days, the vaccination of tourism services personnel throughout Albania is expected to start.
Traveling in Albania
Your wellbeing is primary for us. During this unprecedented situation created by COVID-19, we have been in touch with all the public institutions and local partners, to assure maximal security on all of your travels with us.
We have strictly followed and we have implemented all the guidelines and protocols published by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection & The Institute of Public Health, against the spread of the virus.
Below we have listed all the measures published in the “Anti COVID-19 Measures Protocol”, approved by the Joint Order No. 353 dated 29/05/2020 of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection & the Ministry of Tourism and Environment.
Protocols approved by the Institute of Public Health
This is a temporary guide during this dynamic phase of COVID-19 and therefore will be refreshed again according to the level of risk.
-50 % of the capacity of the coach is allowed
-All passengers must be equipped with masks and a hand sanitizer
-Maintain distance (where is possible)
2-COVID-19 SANITARY HYGIENE MASS PROTOCOL IN BARS OR RESTAURANTS IN OPEN ENVIRONMENT
- Hand hygiene is important in these moments:
- Before, during, and after food consumption.
- After using the toilet.
- After you have cleaned your nose, after coughing or sneezing.
- After wearing, touching, or removing the mask or face protector.
- After touching money or items that have been treated by employers, such as disposable food bags.
- Before wearing and removing disposable gloves.
- Do not touch eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Coughing and sneezing are performed using the throat or nasal paper. Cards immediately are thrown into the basket.
- The client disinfects hands at the entrance and exit of the bar or restaurant with 60% alcohol-based sanitizers made available by the entity.
• The bar or restaurant subject must guarantee and respect at all times the distance of 1.5 meters between the employed staff and the customers.
• It is recommended to avoid “cash” money and provide card services
• If the payment is made at the cashier the subject of the bar or restaurant must
place Plexiglas between the employee and the client.
• In no case is physical contact allowed between other clients from different groups, or between third including greetings.
• The bar subject – cafe or restaurant should place on the surface of the environment open the tables, so that the distance from the back of one chair in the back of another chair to be at least 1m away, as a result, customers see each other from a distance at least 2m.
• Third parties such as suppliers and distributors are only allowed to be equipped with protective masks, gloves, and hand disinfection.
• The subject must disinfect the environment and clean before opening and after closing at least 2 times a day. Dirty surfaces are first washed with soap and water and then disinfected with other products. Products used by the manufacturer/seller should be following the relevant instructions of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.
• The entity must display the information poster on COVID-19 risk reduction According to the approved format.
• The subject bar – cafe or restaurant must post the statement for the implementation of a protocol for the subjects, according to the approved format which includes the obligation for self-assessment of symptoms by staff/administrator/any other third party person entering and leaving the premises under approved format, where administrative or criminal liability is mentioned for the person who does not take measures according to legal obligations and green number for denunciation.
• The bar – coffee or restaurant subject must display the full protocol according to the text approved.
3-Measures in resorts, hotels, accommodation units as well as tourist attractions (museums, places of interest, national parks, etc.)
This protocol is valid only in case of the removal of restrictive measures by the Albanian Government and in case of allowing touristic activities, according to the confirmed areas and territories.
1.1 Treatment of symptomatic cases
If a person present within the accommodation/tourism facility (visitor, staff, etc.) has a fever and symptoms of a respiratory infection (dry cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing) he should immediately notify the accompanying person. with National Emergency 127 and LGU of the local unit in terms of tourist enterprise. Communication should be possible only through the telephone.
1.2 Use of elevators
The use of elevators must allow the distance approved by the MLSW (1.5 m). The distance can be reduced for people who are part of the same family, tourist group, or who share a room.
1.3 Manual for Food and Beverage administration
-Raise your hands often and on request.
-If automatic machines are used, the drinks should be served only in disposable cardboard cups.
When entering and leaving restaurants, or barns customers should disinfect their hands with a disinfectant gel, that should be placed at the entrance of these facilities. Customers must maintain a distance approved by the MLSW between them (1.5 meters).
1.5 General rules
Until the end of the epidemic caused by Covid-19, all beach stations as well as public beaches must have posted the advice and rules for protection against Covid-19.
These rules consist of.
a) Wash and disinfect your hands regularly and properly.
b) Use masks according to instructions.
c) Avoid crowds and any contact outside the group.
d) Do not touch the face and nose with unwashed and uninfected hands.
e) When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth/nose with forearms or disposable wipes.
f) If you notice Covid19 symptoms, call Nr. 127.
1.6 SPA / Sauna / Massage & beauty center
Based on the size of the environment, the hotel/resort can allow a maximum number of customers at the same time in the Spa area respecting the distance of 1.5 meters between them. For customers who want to enjoy a massage or use the sauna or jacuzzi, each of them must make a reservation to check their number with respect to the distance of 1.5 meters.
1.7 Various concerts
At the moment, festivals, concerts, and festivities with a large concentration of people are not allowed until a second announcement.
1.8 Rules for guides and excursions
Recommendations for visits to museums, cultural sites, archeology, and protected areas for organized groups, families, or individuals
- It is recommended to maintain physical distances and personal hygiene according to the instructions of MSHMS.
- In museums, cultural sites, archeological sites, and protected areas, special bins are placed for the disposal of anti-COVID waste.
- At the beginning of each trip, the tourist guide is recommended to provide the necessary information to the tourists for maintaining physical distance and hygiene according to the instructions of MSHMS.