Hospitality industry representatives and musicians held a protest yesterday in front of the  Government of North Macedonia against some of the measures against COVID-19. Previously, there were protests in Tetovo and Kumanovo by high school students who oppose the online teaching, and yesterday there were protests against the increase in electricity prices organized by the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE.

On the day that marked a record number of 317 people infected with COVID-19, out of whom 182 are from Skopje, the epidemiologists remind that each mass gathering poses a risk of spreading COVID-19.

Protest by musicians and caterers in front of the Government | Photo credit: Arbnora Memeti

“Wherever people are grouping, there is also a risk of virus spread. All group gathering should be avoided regardless if they are happening in open spaces. If people have to go to a protest, they must wear masks. Half of this year we are continuously having problems and there hasn’t a day gone by without a COVID infection or a day without a death,” said Aleksandar Stojanov, epidemiologist and Director of the Public Health Center – Skopje.

Professor Dr. Nikola Panovski considers that the protesst posses a risk, but previous experiences from protests worldwide have shown there weren’t any significant rises in the number of infections.

“The virus can be transmitted from people to people if they are standing close to each other. If one of them is infected, he or she can infect from two to three people. The protest posses a risk, but not a massive widespread. VMRO-DPMNE’s actions are contradictory, as they strived to postpone the elections in order for the people’s health to be protected and now they are organizing the protests. In any case, there is no data that in the aftermath of a protest, the numbers have risen drastically. There are protests in Bulgaria and Serbia, but there aren’t any significant changes in the numbers of newly infected. It is important for people to wear masks. The virus can be spread in open spaces from to another person but not from the aerosols that are present in a closed space,” said Dr. Panovski.

Photo credit: Arbnora Memeti

According to him, gatherings such as weddings, saint day feastsand parties in clubs and cafeterias are more dangerous than protests in open spaces.

“The virus spreads massively in closed and confined spaces. It is happening even at markets and protests, but gatherings in closed spaces are the riskiest ones. Gatherings, where people sing and yell, are also dangerous,” said the professor.

During yestoday’s protest, the musicians requested a meeting with government representatives in order to present them with their protection measures from COVID-19.

“We are on the brink of a financial collapse. Our facilities meet all of the criteria and we can make better protocols for work,” said Goran Arsovski who represented the nightclubs in the country.