March 16, 2020 - An overview of the situation with coronavirus in Montenegro, with the latest health, travel and containment measures explained.
UPDATE MARCH 18, 2020
UPDATE MARCH 17, 2020 - Montenegro confirms first two cases of COVID-19.
UPDATE MARCH 17, 2020 - Montenegro has announced full closure to international traffic.
How many cases of coronavirus are there in Montenegro?
At time of writing, March 16, 2020, Montenegro reminds the only European country with no recorded cases of coronavirus infection.
What is the situation in countries neighbouring Montenegro?
There are also no reported fatalities in Montenegro's four neighbouring countries - Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Albania. At the moment, Serbia has 55 cases, Bosnia and Herzegovina 24, Croatia 57, Kosovo 13, and Albania 51.
Are the borders of Montenegro open?
There are still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Montenegro, but nevertheless all preventive measures have been taken, so no schools are open from today, all public gatherings are banned. Starting from today, border crossings to all countries in the region are closed - no entries to and from Serbia, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Of course, Montenegrin citizens are welcome to come back home, but will be isolated for the next two weeks.
Are there any travel restrictions for people travelling to Montenegro?
Yes. From midnight, the Government of Montenegro introduced rigorous measures, which also include a temporary ban on entry into the country of foreigners, except for foreigners with permanent or temporary residence in Montenegro and foreigners operating motor vehicles engaged in the transport of goods.
The transport of goods remains undisturbed with extraordinary measures of health and sanitary control.
For all Montenegrin citizens, as well as for foreigners who have permanent or temporary residence in Montenegro, who come from abroad, based on the decision of the sanitary inspection, the Government issued a 14-day mandatory self-isolation measure.
How badly have flights to Montenegro been affected? Have there been many flight cancellations?
Airports of Montenegro have cancelled certain flights to seven European countries in the current month to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. As of today, the national air carrier Montenegro Airlines
is temporarily suspending all flights.
To prevent the introduction of coronavirus in Montenegro and transfer to other countries, the Ministry of Health has temporarily banned travel to the most affected countries: Italy, Spain, South Korea, Iran, China, and the province of Hubei. According to the latest order, it is also prohibited to travel to Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and Austria. Passengers/returnees in international traffic from these countries will be placed under enhanced sanitary surveillance.
A ban on the landing and take-off of a Freebird Airlines air carrier was issued at Podgorica and Tivat airports until 19 March 2020. Concerning Podgorica flights, Turkish Airlines flights to Istanbul are suspended on 22 March and 25 March. Ryanair flights on the Podgorica-Bologna route are suspended, as well as the connection this company provides with Barcelona. From 15 March to 25, the flights of WizzAir Milan - Podgorica - Milan were canceled, as well as all Alitalia flights for March.
Are schools open in Montenegro?
Schools in Montenegro, as well as kindergartens and universities, are closed from today for an initial two weeks.
Is there panic buying in shops in Montenegro, and are there enough supplies?
Although there are still no confirmed cases of CONVID-19 infection in Montenegro and no strict obligation for self-isolation has been declared, panic among the population is increasing. Taught by emergency shortages, which have unfortunately not been uncommon in Montenegro in the last 30 years, Montenegrin citizens have embarked on an "attack" on supermarkets. There is the most significant demand for basic foodstuffs: flour, oil, and milk, although there are no indications that there will be supply problems soon.
Panic is increasing day by day, Source: Podgorički vremeplov FB page
Source: Podgorički vremeplov FB page
Source: Podgorički vremeplov FB page
Not to think that our situation is much different than in other countries - Montenegrins also make home supplies of toilet paper.
Regarding the demand for protective masks and disinfectants, shortages in Montenegrin pharmacies have been going on for weeks.
How will coronavirus affect the tourist season in Montenegro?
With no confirmed cases of CONVID-19 infection yet, Montenegro is currently one of the most desirable places to be. However, it is unrealistic to expect that a coronavirus epidemic will bypass this small Balkan country. On the other hand, given that it bases its economy primarily on tourism, these will undoubtedly be one of the states hit hardest by the economic impact of the pandemic.
Impacts on the tourist pre-season are already evident, with the cancellation of a lot of arrangements for Montenegro. Considering the latest measures by the Government of Montenegro, which closed its borders and suspended the air traffic from seven European markets, it seems like the situation would be only more serious.
The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism and the National Tourism Organization of Montenegro point out that it is still unhelpful to predict what all the consequences the global epidemiological situation will have on domestic economic and economic circumstances, given that the situation is changing day by day.
What should I do if I think I have coronavirus in Montenegro?
The recommendation of the Institute of Public Health of Montenegro is that patients suspected of having coronavirus symptoms should not report in person, but only by telephone to the nearest health institution, or the Institute of Public Health itself, for instructions on how to proceed.
Where can I find the most current and reliable information about coronavirus in Montenegro in English?
The information on coronavirus at the Government of Montenegro webpage
The Montenegin Institute of Public Health
Montenegrin Airlines notices regarding coronavirus- covid-19s notices regarding coronavirus- covid-19
What restrictions are in place in Montenegro due to coronavirus?
As mentioned above, schools, kindergartens and universities have been closed throughout the country, effective Monday, initially for 2 weeks. Public meetings are prohibited, as well as all sports and religious events. The authorities suggest citizens to stay at home, avoiding any indoor meetings if not necessary. The Montenegrin Health Institute launched the public campaign "Stay at Home."
The Ministry of Health has adopted the new provisional measures, starting from 16 March, including prohibition of entry to foreigners, compulsory self-isolation for all Montenegrin citizens who come from abroad, ban on providing catering services in hotels, the closing of disco clubs/ bars and nightclubs/ bars, closing of catering establishments - cafes, pubs, cafeterias, restaurants and bars, except catering establishments, ban on providing shopping and catering services in shopping malls, closing of children's playrooms, fitness centres, casinos, betting shops and gambling houses, limiting the number of customers in the retail outlets, markets and bazaars. The Decree for taking temporary measures to prevent the introduction into the country, suppress and prevent the transmission of new coronavirus is available in English at the Government of Montenegro website.
What is the general attitude of the Montenegrin population and government to the 2020 coronavirus crisis?
Whether we were lucky or minded, it is superfluous to speak now, but Montenegro remains the only country in Europe without cases of coronavirus infection. The fact is that we have been allowed to learn from other countries, which are severely affected by the virus, that self-isolation is the best measure to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19. The Government of Montenegro has acted responsibly from the outset, respecting the recommendations of epidemiologists and the scientific community and put in place rigorous preventative measures against the coronavirus epidemic on time, which are yielding results so far.
Although initially panic in terms of "attacks" on supermarkets far exceeded the level of personal responsibility, public awareness to the recommendations of the World Health Organization and national health authorities is increasing day by day. The "Stay Home" campaign launched by the Institute of Public Health has a growing number of supporters among celebrities, and it is bringing good results. Having in mind Montenegrins' habits, the latest Government measures, especially the closure of restaurants and bars, will help people act even more responsibly in regards to coronavirus protection.
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