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Albania, Kosovo, Portugal and Slovakia Lift Some COVID-19 Restrictions

Αssociated Press

Protesters holding the Albanian flag shout slogans during the demolition of the national theater building as police block them in Tirana, Sunday, May 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Gent Onuzi)

TIRANA, Albania — Both Albania and Kosovo have allowed nearly all movement and operation of businesses on Monday except for a few activities that usually collect groups of people.

Land borders have opened, and incoming visitors are not obliged to self-quarantine themselves. A long queue of vehicles was seen at some border crossing points and businesses at one of them were complaining about an added 22-euro tax ($24.4) for disinfection of their cargo vehicles.

People and businesses are free to move, including with vehicles.

Public transport, sport activities, cultural events and pools are still shut, which means all activities of mass gatherings are prohibited. Soccer league matches will be held without fans.

Kosovo also has opened public transport but with limited number of passengers inside the buses.

Hotels in Albania also opened on Monday while public beaches will be free for the people a week later. Tourism is one of the most negatively impacted businesses, especially in Albania with a 300-mile (483-kilometer) seaside increasingly attracting international tourists.

People are advised to continue to respect social distancing and hygiene measures like hand washing regularly.

Albania and Kosovo authorities claim that imposing a lockdown early in its outbreak has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and critically ill people low.

As of Monday, Albania has 33 confirmed virus-related deaths and over 1,100 confirmed cases, while Kosovo reported 30 deaths and about 1,000 confirmed cases.

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LISBON, Portugal — Portugal is allowing movie theaters, shopping malls, gymnasiums and kindergartens to reopen from Monday, but the capital Lisbon isn’t seeing all those restrictions lifted because some hot spots of the new coronavirus have emerged there.

On Sunday, officials reported that the Lisbon metropolitan area represented 268 of the country’s 297 new daily infections.

Health authorities say they are stepping up controls in some of Lisbon’s low-income zones, and especially at construction sites and for temporary workers regarded as most at risk.

There were few cars in Lisbon’s streets at the start of the week. The capital’s public transport was little used, and empty offices remained the norm even though working from home is no longer mandatory.

Lisbon shopping malls and mega stores must stay closed, and people can gather in groups of no more than 10 people, at least until a government review on June 4.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is partially reopening its schools amid the government’s steps to ease the restrictive measures to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Nursery schools are reopening on Monday while children up to the fifth grade (about 11 years old) can go back to schools on a voluntary basis but no more than 20 can be in one class.

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova, who visited a school in the town of Lozorno located north of Bratislava, said the online remote education had after all some benefits for all.

“It was a tough experience for all but at the end it resulted in some benefits, such as for the relations between the teachers and the students as well the teachers and the parents,” Caputova said.

Only 28 people have died of COVID-19 in Slovakia, according to the government’s figures while about 1,500 tested positive for the coronavirus.