The Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, Oliver Spasovski, together with the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs and Coordination of the Humanitarian Aid for dealing with COVID-19, Dr. Bujar Osmani, the Minister of Health Dr. Venko Filipche, and the President of the Commission on infectious diseases at the Institute of Public Health, Dr. Zharko Karadzovski, held a press conference today where they announced and explained the decisions to repeal some of the restrictive measures that were taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to deal with COVID-19 .
Please read below the full text of the address of Prime Minister Spasovski:
Dear media representatives,
I would like to start by announcing a series of decisions that the Government made at the afternoon session.
According to the analysis and recommendations of the Commission on Infectious Diseases, based on certain fulfilled conditions, we can conclude, and based on the analysis and recommendations of the Commission on Infectious Diseases, the Government adopted multiple decisions today, which end the validity of several restrictive measures:
- As of tomorrow, May 27, the validity of the Decision on prohibition and special regime of movement on the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia is terminated;
- As of Thursday, May 28, the hospitality facilities in the Republic of North Macedonia will reopen with an appropriate and precisely defined protocol for their work in their open-air areas, i.e. the terraces of these facilities, as well as, their work in the closed areas. Their work in the facilities without terraces will be regulated in the next phase;
- As of June 1, 2020, the Government’s decision by which different categories of employees are exempted on various grounds from regular and ongoing performing of their work activities, including work from home, commuting to work in the city of Skopje, organization of the work process with rosters and other similar measures and recommendations.
Furthermore, this decision will be accompanied by an appropriate protocol for work, action and behaviour in the workplace, which refers to the environmental conditions, physical distance in the workplace and other premises, wearing personal protective equipment and so on;
This does not apply to the chronically ill.
Concessions to this decision, also, apply to parents who have children up to 10 years of age or children of preschool age, for whom the decision for reopening of kindergartens will be awaited.
Today, we adopted the precise protocol for acting upon the entry of all Macedonian citizens in the country. According to this protocol, the mandatory state quarantine for the citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia returning from abroad by humanitarian flights or convoys is replaced by home isolation if the person entering the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia submits a PCR negative test for coronavirus done 72 hours before entering the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia.
From today, all persons who are taken to the facilities for state quarantine can undergo a PCR test, at their own expense, in the facility where they are accommodated and if they have a negative result, they can be referred to home self-isolation.
At the suggestion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Commission on Infectious Diseases, a protocol was prepared for foreign diplomats accredited in the country and the members of their families. If they submit a medical certificate for negative PCR test done in the last 72 hours before entering the Republic of North Macedonia, they will be able to do their job smoothly, without being in home self-isolation.
In addition to these decisions, at today’s Government session we assigned the Commission on Infectious Diseases at the Ministry of Health to make a clear and precise assessment of the opening of the state borders, as well as to prepare appropriate protocols for entry into and exit from the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia.
I would like to mention that we are making this decision based on the joint coordination with the countries in the region. Moreover, we have excellent communication with each one of them, which says that very soon travelling in the region will be regulated in the interest of the citizens of all countries.
The second task of the Commission on Infectious Diseases at the Ministry of Health is to prepare appropriate protocols for the work of hotels, i.e. the manner of work with visitors, and the work in the hotel facilities.
Why did we make these decisions?
I would like to emphasize once again the fact that the Macedonian healthcare system reacted appropriately, in a timely manner, and dealt well with the coronavirus pandemic.
I have repeatedly emphasized that all Government decisions are made in line with the expert, scientifically based analysis and recommendations of the Commission on Infectious Diseases.
There are two main reasons for today’s decisions, which derive from the analysis and opinion of the Commission.
Firstly, the situation with the coronavirus epidemic is under control. The number of active cases is stable.
The increase in the number of new cases in the past few days is due to failure to comply with the restrictive measures of the previous phase, but the most important in this regard is that we have precise and well-known clusters so we know where this increase comes from.
In the coming period, there will be emphasized attention and focused implementation of soft measures towards these hotspots. This is to be expected and the healthcare system has the capacity to deal with it.
With that, we come to the second reason that gives us the right to reach today’s decisions. The capacity and knowledge of health professionals for these three months in terms of coronavirus has reached a high level of professionalism and readiness, which gives us the right to say that in these conditions the health system is set so that it can successfully respond to the tendencies we are expecting.
Thanks to the timely and appropriate preparations in the health system and its readiness to respond to the epidemic, we have successfully cushioned the first impact of the epidemic. We have stabilized the situation and the health system has not been burdened at all.
I will emphasize once again: The virus is here and will not disappear overnight. It will be with us until immunity is gained or a vaccine is developed.
Therefore, it is extremely important for the citizens to follow the recommendations and measures of the Government, regarding the necessary physical distance and wearing protective equipment.
We need to be aware that we can still be infected, and that is why we need to respect all measures for personal protection. We should live with the coronavirus in a way that we will protect ourselves, thus protect the health of those around us.
In this way, we take care of our health and our collective health, but we also directly help the health workers, who are at the front line of the coronavirus outbreak response.
Each one of us needs to help them by following the protective measures as each of us is equally important in the battle with the coronavirus.
This new phase of termination of the restrictive measures does not mean that the coronavirus has been defeated.
Only the experts from the Commission on Infectious Diseases, the Institute of Public Health, and the Ministry of Health can make a credible and scientifically based statement that the coronavirus has been defeated.
We have to accept that the pandemic is not over, nor are the health risks to the citizens regarding the COVID-19.
The virus is here and it represents a threat to every single citizen, and any relativization or ignoring of this infection is directly detrimental to the fight against it.
Citizens and the media should continue to be informed about the coronavirus by the competent institutions such as the Ministry of Health and the institutions of the Ministry.
It is now clear to all of us that we are entering a new phase, when we are moving towards a new normalcy of our lives, and towards our new everyday life.
This new everyday life calls us and obliges us to even greater caution and commitment in respecting the measures.
In this way alone, through the epidemiological control provided, through the strict protocols for the new normalcy and through the protection provided for the public health, we will be able to talk about all the usual activities, such as the scheduled elections. The Macedonian democracy and development need stable institutions and the return to normal functioning of the state as soon as possible.
Macedonian citizens need a functional Assembly.
The date of the elections is determined by the Decree with force of law, which is valid until the end of the state of emergency. Elections should be held 22 days from the moment when the state of emergency ends in the Republic of North Macedonia. That is the factual situation.
Therefore, the elections should be held as soon as possible. We must comply with the law, and the elections should be held at the moment when there are the best conditions for them.
One of the responsibilities of this government is to do everything possible to provide for the new normalcy of the everyday life of citizens. All those who oppose the new normalcy contribute to the country remaining in a health and economic crisis, and that is not responsible behavior.
Finally, I would like to thank the members of the Commission on Infectious Diseases for their commitment and excellent recommendations, which we based our decisions on. I would also like to thank the doctors and all health workers, as well as, everyone on the front lines, such as the police, the army and the media, for their contribution to our joint fight against the coronavirus.