Accessibility links

Breaking News

COVID-19: Two Georgian Cities To End Lockdown; Serbia Sets New Election Date

Updated

Josip Joska Broz (right), grandson of late Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito, lays flowers on his grandfather's tomb to mark the 40th anniversary of Tito's death, in Belgrade on May 4.

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 247,000 with more than 3.5 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions.

Georgia

Two major cities in Georgia, Batumi and Kutaisi, will lift the lockdowns imposed on them in mid-April to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said on May 4 that the restrictions will be lifted the next day, adding that two other major cities in the South Caucasus country, Tbilisi, the capital, and Rustavi, may have their restrictions lifted by the end of the week.

Gakharia explained that lifting the restrictions meant that vehicles will be allowed to enter and exit the cities, though the nationwide curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. will remain until further notice.

Earlier on May 4, health authorities in Georgia said that four more individuals had tested positively for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 593, including nine deaths.

Serbia

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says general elections delayed by the coronavirus pandemic will be held on June 21.

The parliamentary and local elections were originally scheduled for April 26 but were put on hold after a nationwide state of emergency was declared in mid-March.

Vucic made the announcement after meeting with leaders of political parties on May 4.

Vucic has said his government will lift the state of emergency later this week after a decrease in the number of new coronavirus cases in the country.

He said on TV Pink on May 3 that parliament would vote on May 6 to end the state of emergency.

The Balkan country has enforced since March 15 some of the strictest lockdown measures in Europe as part of the state of emergency, including border closures and nightly and weekend curfews.

Vucic said that two conditions for restrictions to end had been met: Infections declining to under 5 percent of tests for seven days in a row, and there were significantly fewer people on respirators.

Serbia has recorded over 9,500 coronavirus cases and 197 deaths as of May 4, according to official figures.

From May 4, bus and rail services are allowed but passengers will be required to wear face masks and no air conditioning is allowed.

Shopping malls, cafes, and restaurants will also reopen with social-distancing and hygiene measures in place.

Small shops were allowed to reopen in late April.

Opposition parties have indicated they will boycott the elections over accusations that there will not be a level playing field for the campaign.

Serbian independent media have repeatedly complained of being pressured by officials and have accused the government of fueling an atmosphere of intolerance toward journalists.

Vucic, who has vowed to lead Serbia toward European Union membership while also developing ties with China and traditional ally Russia, has been accused of curbing media freedoms and democracy.

Vucic has denied the accusations.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan and Georgian services, AP, and AFP
  • 16x9 Image

    RFE/RL

    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 26 languages in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

XS
SM
MD
LG