April 28, 2020 / 3:14 PM / a month ago

Serbia to restart public transport as lockdown eases

BELGRADE, April 28 (Reuters) - Serbia will restart bus and rail services and allow commercial flights, a cautious easing of a nationwide lockdown as the rate of coronavirus infections slows, health authorities said on Tuesday.

Serbia introduced measures last month to curb the spread of the virus, including a 5.1 billion euro ($5.6 billion) support programme for small businesses.

Passenger air transport, suspended in March when Serbia introduced a state of emergency and locked borders, will be possible from May 18, epidemiologist Branislav Tiodorovic told a news conference.

Commuter transport in major cities, including the capital Belgrade, and rail and bus services will be restored in the first half of May.

Shopping malls, cafes and restaurants will also reopen on condition they maintain social distancing between customers.

“But we can reverse this, if the situation proves us wrong,” said Tiodorovic, a member of a state committee tasked with combating the disease.

Health authorities remained adamant that a nationwide lockdown between April 30 and May 4, during the international Labour Day festivities, should remain in place.

“We should ...be patient just a little bit and not spoil everything,” said committee member Daria Kisic Tepavcevic.

The government has already allowed small businesses to open, shortened a night curfew and eased a 24-hour lockdown for people aged 65 and above.

About 8,500 people in the Balkan country have been confirmed to have the coronavirus and 168 people have died from it. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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