Everything You Need to Know About Corona-virus (COVID-19) in the Republic of North Macedonia
In the Republic of North Macedonia a total of 201 positive cases of corona-virus are confirmed by March 26 (3 deaths and 3 recovered).
State of emergency was declared on March 18, 2020 across the whole country and will last for 30 days due to Covid-19 outbreak. The state of emergency gives an opportunity the Government to provide conditions for the rapid and efficient implementation of measures, to prevent and protect the health of the citizens, as well as conditions for the economy and economy to function normally.
On Sunday, March 22nd, the Government announced nationwide curfew to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The curfew will be in effect daily from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. Everyone in North Macedonia, including foreign citizens, is restricted from movement outside their homes or places of temporary residency during the hours of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., with limited exceptions. People in need of emergency medical assistance are exempted from the curfew. The Government of North Macedonia will also exempt law enforcement, military, firefighters, and other essential employees from the curfew. Access to transportation, including taxis, may be limited during the curfew.
General information on the latest developments in the country
The Government of the Republic of North Macedonia adopted a Decision limiting the prices of basic food-products and other products that are of an essential need in day-to-day live to every citizen.
To maintain continuous trade exchange with the countries, the Government enabled uninterrupted transit of goods, allowing trucks and persons to enter the country under special protection conditions in accordance with the protocol of the Ministry of Health.
All cross borders will remain closed except for representatives of the diplomatic corps in the country, as well as other persons for whom the Ministry of the Interior will grant permission/s.
The counters of the public institutions will work part time. Businesses and individuals are encouraged to use e-services of the public institutions, where available.
The Public Revenue Office (PRO) informs all taxpayers that it will refrain from submitting decisions on enforced collection of taxes and other public charges from the taxpayers who have not paid their obligations to the PRO, while the Covid-19 measures are into force.
The Government of the Republic of North Macedonia is constantly improving and expanding the sets of the economic measures to support the local economy, making it quite challenging for the businesses to quantify these measures and respond very quickly in terms of modifying their cash flows in this crisis situation.
Measures adopted on March 18
The first measure is related to a direct financial support of the liquidity of the micro, small and medium-sized companies by the Development Bank of North Macedonia with a total of € 11.7 million in form of loans with 0% interest. These loans will be lend directly to companies due to insolvency, i.e. companies whose economic activity is affected by corona-virus. These loans are designed with a great care, so that a large number of companies can be supported. Each company, depending on the number of employees, can receive from 3 to 30 thousand euros.
Micro companies that have up to 10 employees, will be able to borrow from 3 to 5 thousand euros, small companies with 10 to 50 employees, will be able to borrow from 10 to 15 thousand euros and medium companies with 50 to 250 employees will be able to borrow from 15 to 30 thousand euros. It is important that these loans are interest-free, with an interest rate of 0 percent, the grace period will be 6 months and the repayment period is 2 years.
The second measure is related to the companies’ payroll support, to help preserve every single job! Employees from sectors tourism, transport, catering (hospitality) and other affected companies, will receive Salary contribution subsidies up to 50% per employee (based on the average salary paid in 2019) for April, May and June of 2020.
Companies must be able to fulfil the following terms if they want to apply for subsidies:
– they must not reduce the number of employees below the number of employees recorded in February 2020;
– they must not pay dividends during 2020; and
– they haven’t paid bonuses to their employees after this measure came into force.
Only companies that have made a profit as a result of operating in 2020 will return a 50% pre-tax contribution subsidy, that means the measure is directly aimed at helping companies that have made poorer results in 2020 due to the corona virus.
Measures adopted on March 20
- Reduction of statutory default interest will be reduced by 50% and the penalty for public duties will be reduced from 0.03% to 0.015% i.e by 50%.
- Reduction of the reference interest rate of the National Bank to 1.75% that should further reduce the cost for financing for companies and households. From 10 to 5% and from 8 to 4% for the period for which the Central Bank prescribes the reference interest rate will be changed to provide more favorable conditions when the reference interest rate decreases.
- Restructuring of loan liabilities to commercial banks loans to interest-free, with an interest rate of 0 percent, and the grace period to be 6 months and the repayment period to be 2 years.
- Hospitality industry: all fees related to the Association for copyright protection (ZAPM) to be put on hold; and – ne uspeav da go najdam ovoj predlog na vlada mk
- Tourism industry: Grants to be available by the newly established Tourism Industry Compensation Fund. Tourism Industry Compensation Fund will be organized in order grants up to 74 million MKD to be available for compensation of the tourist economy for overcoming the outbreak according number of employees.
- In addition, the Ministry of Finance and the PRO will recommend providers to reduce the prices for maintaining of the cash registers by 50%.
Another recommendation by the Government was shared for the factories with large number of employees. All companies can continue their normal operations, but they need reorganise their work in shifts, up 4 shifts within 24 hours, if that’s necessary. This will reduce the number of employees per shift and will prevent them to stay in close contact.
The government also recommends companies to conduct activities to disinfect their premises after every shift. This is in the interest of both employees, companies and the public health.
Furthermore, in order to enable an uninterrupted entry in the country and transit of cargo vehicles, the Sanitary Inspectorate through Makamtrans will provide entry clearances in order to maintain continuous trade exchange. These trucks and persons will enter the country under special protection conditions in accordance with the protocol of the Ministry of Health.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed numerous attempts how organisations and civilians can easily become target of Phishing: malicious emails appearing to be from WHO.
WHO is aware of suspicious email messages attempting to take advantage of the COVID-19 emergency. This fraudulent action is called phishing.
These “Phishing” emails appear to be from WHO, and will ask you to:
- give sensitive information, such as usernames or passwords
- click a malicious link
- open a malicious attachment.
Using this method, criminals can install malware or steal sensitive information.
How to prevent phishing?
- Verify the sender by checking their email address.
- Check the link before you click.
- Be careful when providing personal information.
- Do not rush or feel under pressure.
- If you gave sensitive information, don’t panic.
- If you see a scam, report it.
To tackle the COVID-19 situation, many countries have imposed entry restrictions and border closures.
Therefore, the Government of North Macedonia announced that is closing both airports in the country in the following order: St. Paul the Apostle Ohrid effective from 00:00 am on Sunday, March 15th and Skopje International Airport effective from 00:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2020
Important information for foreign citizens: Foreign citizens will be permitted to depart North Macedonia through Skopje International Airport prior to its closure at 00:00 a.m. on Thursday March 19, 2020. Travelers should work directly with air carriers or travel agents to confirm, arrange, or reschedule travel.
Land borders with all neighbouring countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, and Serbia, are currently closed.
Only citizens and legal residents of North Macedonia are allowed to cross the borders of North Macedonia following the protocols confirmed by the local authorities.
According to the recommendations and protocols of the Infectious Diseases Commission, all travellers arriving in the country will be checked/interviewed by the health authorities for corona-virus. If some are suspected to the virus they will be tested. All passengers who enter the country must spend 14 days in either self-isolation or in the group quarantine.
All those in self-isolation, as soon as they experience any symptoms characteristic of COVID-19 should contact the epidemiological contact phone numbers, available throughout the country:
- CPH Bitola – 071261330
- CPH Veles – 071 219 278
- LU Gevgelija – 078 545 444
- CPH Kochani – 071 373 913
- CPH Kumanovo – 070 215 851
- CPH Ohrid – 070 723 029
- CPH Prilep – 076 475 747
- CPH Skopje – 071 289 614
- CPH Strumica – 072 235 543
- CPH Tetovo – 075 240 464
- LU Gostivar – 076 365 161
- CPH Shtip – 078 365 613
- IPH Skopje – 078 387 194
- HC Hello doctor (Alo doktore) – 02/15 123
Measures of self-isolation
- It is not allowed to leave the house except in an emergency.
- When you enter self-isolation, you are obliged to contact your nearest doctor. No further reporting is required unless you get a temperature.
- Measure your body temperature in the mornings and evenings.
- Pay attention to the symptoms of respiratory infection (fever, cough, shortness of breath …).
- Wash your hands regularly with soap or use a hydro-alcoholic solution.
- Clean and disinfect items and surfaces on a regular basis in the premises where you reside.
- Ventilate the room regularly.
- Use separate bedding, towels and cutlery.
- Secure a separate room and use the bathroom separately.
- If you need to go to a healthcare facility, contact your doctor or a competent epidemiologist beforehand.