More than 1000 protesters have gathered on the evening of Wednesday, July 8, in the vicinity of the parliament building in central Belgrade to protest a renewed government directive by President Aleksandar Vucic to impose a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown amid a recent surge in cases. Tear gas was fired on protesters by police in attempts to disperse the groups, which officials fear will exacerbate the increase in cases. Hours before the protest began, Vucic pleaded on national television to stop attending the rallies as there are limited facilities in hospitals to cope with the increase of COVID-19 cases.
Further unrest is likely in Belgrade in the near term amid continued opposition to the reimposed lockdown.
On Tuesday, July 7, President Aleksandar Vucic announced that a weekend-long curfew will be enforced in Belgrade from Friday, July 10, to Monday, July 13, in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. The announcement came after a further 299 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Serbia on Tuesday, with 13 associated deaths. Around 80 percent of all active COVID-19 cases are in Belgrade and hospitals in the capital are reportedly running close to capacity. From 18:00 (local time) on Friday until 05:00 on Monday, residents will only be able to leave their homes for essential purposes. The measure may be extended to the rest of Serbia in the coming days in COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
Those in Belgrade are advised to monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate transportation disruptions in the vicinity of demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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