How will the Balkan Countries Celebrate New Year’s Eve during a Pandemic

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | December 30, 2021, Thursday // 12:36
Bulgaria: How will the Balkan Countries Celebrate New Year’s Eve during a Pandemic Pixabay

Mass open-air celebrations, noisy parties, fireworks, and sumptuous meals ... These unchanging pictures on New Year's Eve for the second year in a row will be marked by the Covid pandemic and the restrictions it imposes. Here is how the people of the Balkans will welcome the new year 2022:


In ROMANIA they will be able to celebrate the New Year with almost no restrictions. The night quarantine, which restricted the movement of unvaccinated people between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., was lifted in early December, and shops and restaurants were allowed to work until 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., as was the case before.

On New Year's Eve, establishments will be able to work all night, and restaurants will be able to fill up to 50 percent of their capacity. Guests are required to present a certificate of vaccination, illness or a negative test. The squares will be able to be filled again with New Year's Eve celebrants. There is no limit to the number of people who can gather outdoors. The only requirement is that they wear protective masks.

However, the holiday does not seem to have the traditional splendor this year. Bucharest City Hall has announced that for the second year in a row it will not host a fireworks show at Constitution Square this year, although the law does not prohibit it. The reason is that the easing of measures has been announced too late. However, there will be fireworks in a number of other cities such as Cluj, Timisoara, Brasov, Sibiu, etc.


MONTENEGRO imposed new measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, limiting the working hours of establishments to 22:00 p.m. The new measures will be in force from 30 December to 12 January. An exception will be made for the work of the establishments on New Year's Eve, when they will be able to remain open until 1 o'clock at night. Even before today's decision, public celebrations for the New Year were banned, and wearing a mask indoors became mandatory after the number of Omicron cases increased in the country.

Restrictions were also introduced yesterday for Bulgarians entering Montenegro.


SLOVENIA also banned open-air mass celebrations for the New Year, but allowed restaurants and bars to operate until the early hours of 1 January. However, customers will need to have a covid pass and a negative test. The Slovenian government has approved a framework of anti-epidemic measures for the Christmas and New Year holidays, with significantly fewer restrictions than last year. This year, there will be a midnight liturgy in the churches, which can only be attended by people who have been vaccinated, have been ill or have a negative test. On December 31 and January 1, gatherings in one place of no more than three households are allowed, provided that people over the age of 6 have been tested before, the government said. The validity of the tests was reduced - up to 24 hours for a rapid antigen test and up to 48 hours for a PCR test.


Authorities in CROATIA AND THE REPUBLIC OF NORTH MACEDONIA have said they do not plan to tighten measures during the holidays, although both countries have already confirmed cases of the more contagious Omicron variant.

In the Republic of North Macedonia, health authorities have said they do not plan further restrictions, as the number of active cases remains relatively small. Skopje's new mayor, Danela Arsovska, has canceled planned celebrations in the capital, saying she would like a more modest New Year's ceremony this year.

Unlike other countries where a new pre-holiday lockdown was introduced, Croatia believes that compliance with existing measures - distance, masks, etc. - will be enough to keep the situation under control. New Year's Eve celebrations in Zagreb's main square have not been canceled, but covid certificates will be required to attend.


In the capital of SERBIA, Belgrade, New Year's Eve celebrations in the open will also not be canceled, despite fears of the Omicron option spreading. The festive spirit has already taken over the city, where various programs are organized daily, including events for children, according to the website Balkan Insight. Concerts with folk music were scheduled for December 29, 30 and 31 in the city center in front of the parliament building, where there will be a fireworks display. However, epidemiologists do not support these initiatives. "There is definitely no epidemiologist in the Crisis Staff who would support such events," health expert Predgar Kon, a member of the Crisis Staff, told state television RTS.


The annual traditional pyrotechnic show on the Acropolis will not take place in GREECE this year. Health Minister Thanos Plevris announced that all public gatherings for the holidays, whether public or private, had been canceled. The obligatory wearing of masks both outdoors and indoors is back. The country has even ordered the use of two masks or masks with a high degree of protection in public transport and supermarkets.

In addition, the Greek government has decided to introduce earlier than expected stricter restrictions on the operation of establishments, which came into force not as planned on January 3, but on December 30. According to the accepted restrictions, restaurants, clubs and other establishments will be able to work only until midnight and only with seated customers at tables for up to six people. Music in restaurants is also prohibited. The only exception is for New Year's Eve, when the restaurants will be able to stay open until 2 a.m. with the same safety measures.


In TURKEY, no additional bans or restrictions are planned for the New Year holidays due to COVID-19. This also applies to Istanbul, the traditional center of New Year's celebrations, said the head of the district health directorate, Prof. Kemal Memisoglu. This means that the current rules and measures to prevent coronavirus infection will apply at New Year's gatherings. However, experts are concerned about the emergence of the new version of Omicron in Turkey, which has so far been established in six districts of the country, and warn that indoor and crowded places are an ideal environment for the spread of the virus. Turkey is counting on attracting many visitors from abroad for the holiday, taking advantage of bans on celebrations in other countries, including its regional tourism rival, Greece.


REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS tightens health measures before the New Year, as from today for entry to nightclubs and discos, as well as the presence of banquets, weddings and baptisms, requires, in addition to a vaccination certificate, a quick test done within 24 hours -early. Those vaccinated with a booster third dose of the vaccine are exempted from the latter requirement. There is a limit of 300 to the maximum number of people present in restaurants, night and music clubs and discos. All customers must be seated and dancing is prohibited. The use of a protective mask is mandatory everywhere.

In the northern part of Cyprus, ruled by the authorities of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized only by Turkey, the unvaccinated and those with only one dose are not allowed to visit public places indoors. Exceptions are only supermarkets, government agencies and banks, but with a requirement for a negative PCR test performed in the last 72 hours. The TRNC also prohibits the gathering of more than 10 people when visiting homes. Only two-vaccinated people will be able to take part in the New Year's celebrations, subject to the requirement of a social distance of two square meters outdoors and three square meters indoors.


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