Thousands of people in Belgrade went out to protest against the new government ordered curfew. Police on the streets for the first time in many years, tear gas fired.
Protesters stormed the parliament building and have been clashing with police.
Protesters flooded Belgrade’s city center to voice their anger over President Aleksandar Vucic’s announcement of a return to strict limits on gatherings and plans to reimpose a weekend lockdown because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Scuffles broke out between police and a group of protesters who tried to storm into the parliament building, prompting police to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Thousands of people took part in the protest, which came after Vucic said on July 7 that the situation in Belgrade is critical and that hospitals in the city of around 1.3 million are almost full.
Some of the protesters shouted their outrage over the government’s handling of the crisis and called on Vucic to resign. Others lit flares and threw stones at police.
Serbian authorities have incrementally ramped up anti-pandemic measures amid a COVID-19 spike since rapidly reopening weeks before June 21 elections in which Vucic and his ruling Progressive Party allies scored a victory.
Vucic told a press conference on July 7 that gatherings will be limited to five people from the following day, and he said he will request that a government task force declare a nationwide weekend curfew ahead of a reassessment of the situation.
“Be prepared for a curfew starting on Friday [July 10], probably from 6:00 p.m., until Monday [July 13], 5:00 a.m.,” Vucic said. “I personally would like to have this for all of Serbia. But whether the task force and Prime Minister [Ana] Brnabic will listen to me, that we will have to see.”
There was initial confusion when Vucic appeared to be asserting a lockdown only in the capital and not nationally, but he later clarified his remarks to say that he will propose both to the task force.
“All regulations will be announced after a task-force meeting” on July 8, he said.