Protesters vent fury as Serbia’s president reimposes lockdown

Thousands of people protested against the Serbian president’s announcement that a lockdown will be reintroduced after the Balkan country reported its highest single-day death toll from coronavirus.

Police fired tear gas at thousands of people, some chanting “Resignation! Resignation!” as theygathered in front of the central parliament building in Belgrade.

Some managed to enter the building by force, but were pushed back by riot police.

Earlier, President Aleksandar Vucic called the virus situation Belgrade “alarming” and “critical” as the city’s hospitals neared their capacity limits.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Protesters gather (Marko Drobnjakovic/AP)</figcaption>
Protesters gather (Marko Drobnjakovic/AP)

The country’s Health Ministry said Tuesday 13 people had died in 24 hours in Serbia and 299 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed.

That brought the total to 16,719 confirmed cases and 330 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic in Serbia, which went from having one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns to a near-complete reopening at the beginning of May.

Football and tennis matches were played in packed stands and a parliamentary election was held on June 21 despite warnings from experts that the mass gatherings without social distancing could lead to a new coronavirus wave.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic (Darko Vojinovic/AP)</figcaption>
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

“We have probably relaxed too much.

“Everyone thought it was all over,” Mr Vucic said, angrily rejecting widespread criticism that his insisting on holding the election led to the lifting of the earlier lockdown and the recent coronavirus case spike.

On Tuesday, Montenegro introduced a compulsory quarantine for all people arriving from neighbouring Serbia, citing coronaviorus health risks.

Greece also banned Serb tourists from entering the country on Monday.