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UPDATE CORONAVIRUS AND GOVERNMENT MEASURES

UPDATE CORONAVIRUS AND GOVERNMENT 
MEASURES

Current COVID-19 Situation in North Macedonia

As per 16 June 2020

Country-Specific Information:

The state of emergency for the entire territory of North Macedonia, declared on 18 March, by the President, Stevo Pendarovski, expired on 13 June. The President on 15.06.2020 declared a new state of emergency for a period of 8 days.

The 12 April general elections have been postponed over concerns about the COVID-19. The new date has been set – 15.07.2020.

The Republic of North Macedonia has reported over 4,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders and over 200 deaths (16.06.2020).

The Government of North Macedonia considered an exit from the containment measures and a progressive opening of the economy. On 12 May 2020, Prime Minister announced a three-step plan towards that end. However, the resurgence of the virus in some cities at the beginning of June prompted the authorities to repeat containment measures. Currently, the government alternates between opening the economy under the three-stage plan and temporary and localised containment measures ranging from 24 to 80 hours.

Wearing protective masks is mandatory for any outing in the public space.

Individuals must practice two-meter social distancing in public and wear a protective face covering in closed public spaces, including markets, shops, banks, post offices, health facilities, and public transport, as well as in open spaces where it is not possible to maintain a two-meter distance.

Groups larger than two people are prohibited in public places, excepting children under age 14 with their parents.  

Restaurants and bars with outdoor seating were permitted to open beginning May 28, 2020 under specific protocols determined by the Government of North Macedonia.  Other restaurants may provide delivery and pick-up of food.  Private companies, including hotels, stores, restaurants, and other commercial businesses, may limit hours, restrict access, or close with little or no notice. 

The Government of North Macedonia announced May 18, 2020 that the permitted period of residence for foreigners whose permission to stay in North Macedonia has expired or will expire during the state of emergency was extended until August 31, 2020.  Foreigners staying short-term in North Macedonia, with or without a visa, may remain until August 31, 2020.  The validity of temporary and permanent residency permits is extended until August 31, 2020. 

Economic Impact

North Macedonian measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have slowed economic activity, which in turn has begun to negatively impact the budget.

  • The Government has undertaken a series of regulatory responses to mitigate the negative effects of population protection measures on the economy. The measures were taken as of March 2020. In May 2020, the Government retroactively classified the measures into three phase plan. The first two sets of measures mitigated the impact of the health crisis on the economy and the population and were implemented between March and May 2020. The third package concerns revitalization, economic recovery and stimulation of consumption and industry which began on 17 May 2020.  The third package of newly implemented measures is systematised in 3 main pillars: the distribution of means of payment to the population in order to encourage the consumption of local goods and services; a direct support for the economy; and an aid for the agrarian sector in North Macedonia.

  • At the beginning of the outbreak, the Government has closed all schools, educational institutions, cultural premises, restaurants and non-critical stores. Only food stores, pharmacies and stores allowing enough physical distance remained open. Schools and Universities were closed, and the lectures continued via electronic means. Starting from 8th of May, some shops were authorised to open business provided they had the infrastructure to maintain enough physical distance between customers. On 13 May, the Government decided to allow the opening of closed shopping malls under strict sanitary conditions that will continue for at least 200 days following the end of the state of emergency. On 28 May the Government allowed the reopening of cafes and restaurants.

Border Measures

  • All border crossings in North Macedonia are closed to foreign citizens, with a few exceptions (mainly freight vehicles, diplomatic corps). Skopje International Airport is closed to air traffic (except for state, military, medical and emergency flights), as well as St. Paul the Apostle Airport in Ohrid. On 23 March, the Government put in place a plan for air transport charters to bring back Macedonian nationals. 

  • The Government of North Macedonia requires all travellers to present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 performed within 72 hours prior to entering the country. Travellers returning to North Macedonia from COVID-19 affected areas, must then self- isolate at home for 14 days, or for 21 days for those arriving from countries considered high risk by the Ministry of Health. State quarantine was replaced by home insulation with an attached negative PCR test on the 22 May 2020. Travelers arriving without a PCR test will be required to complete a PCR test upon entry and quarantine at a state institution pending the test results.

  • From 1 June 2020, diplomats entering North Macedonian territory are not subject to this measure.

  • The Government considers the possibility of fully opening the border by the end of June. The Government will permit foreigners without residency permits to enter North Macedonia for transit purposes only and for a maximum of 5 hours, beginning June 15, 2020.  For those a PCR test is not required. Foreigners may enter for transit purposes through the following border crossing points only: Tabanovce, Deve Bair, Bogorodica, Kjafasan, Blace and the Border Crossing Point at Skopje Airport.  Transiting foreigners will be required to complete and sign a statement upon entering and then present the statement to the border authorities upon exiting.  Transiting foreigners are required to comply with all COVID-19 prevention regulations, may not deviate from their designated route, and may only stop at gas stations along their route.  Foreigners who do not comply with these regulations may be required to complete mandatory quarantine.