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Serbia Shuts Nonessential Shops To Fight Coronavirus Surge

The Serbian Health Ministry said on March 12 that it had recorded more than 4,500 new coronavirus infections over the past day. (file photo)

BELGRADE – Serbian authorities have ordered all nonessential shops, as well as bars and restaurants to close this weekend amid a surge in coronavirus infections in the Balkan country.

The restrictions will take effect at 9 p.m. local time on March 12 and will last until March 15, according to the government-appointed crisis body.

All shops and other facilities are to remain closed during the weekend, except food stores, pharmacies, health facilities, and gas stations. All public events will also be suspended.

Pupils in higher primary school grades will switch to online classes next week, senior health official Zoran Gojkovic said.

The Health Ministry has recorded more than 4,500 new coronavirus infections over the past day, and 24 more deaths caused by COVID-19.

Overall, the authorities have recorded more than 507,000 cases and over 4,600 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

More than 1.5 million of Serbia's 7-million-strong population have received at least one shot from China’s Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Russia's Sputnik V, or AstraZeneca vaccines -- meaning the country has one of the highest rates of inoculation in Europe.