Serbian capital Belgrade sees clubbing flouting virus rules

BELGRADE, Serbia — Authorities in Serbia’s capital Belgrade on Monday held an emergency meeting over a surge in night clubbing that has drawn thousands of partygoers in violation of rules against the new coronavirus.

Belgrade’s mayor announced stepped-up controls of clubs, cafes and other venues that are allowed to operate until 8p.m. with limited capacity. but have widely flouted government restrictions.

“We want to send a clear message that this is no moment to relax and that such behavior could put everyone at risk of a rise in numbers of infections,” said Zoran Radojicic.

Serbian police said they detained five people over the weekend after breaking up two big parties in different parts of the city. A party in central Belgrade gathered about 1,000 people and the other, held in a new part of the city, around 600, police said.

Before the virus outbreak, Belgrade was known for its wild nightlife that centers on clubs situated on rafts on the capital’s two rivers, the Danube and Sava.

The country of 7 million has been reporting an average 2,000 new infections a day and health authorities warn that the situation could spiral out of control despite ongoing inoculation against COVID-19.

Also Monday, hundreds of medical workers staged a protest against what they said was authorities’ neglect of their plight as they fight to save COVID-19 patients.

The protesters lit candles and laid white roses outside the government headquarters at a vigil called by an independent doctors’ union to honor more than 100 medical workers they say have died since the start of the pandemic.

Organizers said many lives could have been saved with better organization and protection for medical workers. Participants demanded the resignation of the health minister and changes in the system.

“This is the last warning … we can offer this government!” said union head Rade Panic.

Serbia has reported more than 400,000 confirmed infections and over 4,000 virus-related deaths. Using mainly Chinese and Russian vaccines, authorities so far have inoculated more than 600,000 people and started administering second doses, which has put Serbia among the top countries in Europe regarding vaccination.

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