Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 29 May 2020

Coronavirus: Serbia jails man for three years for breaking quarantine

Balkan country has taken some of the most stringent measures against the virus

Serbia has sentenced a man to three years in jail for breaking self-isolation orders, underlining the contrasting approaches European states have taken amid the coronavirus outbreak.

It was the first such sentence in Serbia and handed down during a video-linked court session in the east of the country.

Serbia has introduced some of the most restrictive measures including a 12-hour police enforced curfew and a 24-hour ban on leaving the home for those older than 65.

Authorities say at least 112 people are in detention in Serbia for ignoring orders to stay at home and are awaiting trial.

Some 50,000 people are under lockdown, most of them Serbs who have returned to the country from abroad after the March 15 introduction of the nationwide state of emergency.

Serbia has reported 435 cases and seven deaths.

Its hard-line approach is at odds with some European Union members, including the hardest hit countries such as France, whose government has been criticised by some for reacting too slowly despite recording some of the highest cases.

Sweden, which has taken a comparatively relaxed approached, announced it would ban gatherings larger than 50 – down from 500. Violaters of the ban, which goes into effect on Sunday, could be fined or sent to prison for up to six months.

An extraordinary cabinet meeting decided today to limit gatherings to 50 people, acting upon a recommendation this morning from the Public Health Agency," Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told reporters.

Despite reporting 3,046 cases and 92 deaths, Sweden has kept primary schools, cafes and restaurants open. People have been instead urged to “take responsibility” and be cautious.

Mr Lofven also urged Swedes not to travel to other parts of the country for the upcoming Easter holiday, as the country sees its number of Covid-19 cases rise.

"If you don't need to travel, stay home. This is serious now," he said.

Updated: March 29, 2020 03:38 AM

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