Bosnian region eases lockdown on seniors, children after court ruling

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation on Friday loosened restrictions that kept seniors and children from leaving their homes at all, in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, after the top court ruled those restrictions violated the constitution.

As of today, people older than 65 will be allowed to leave their homes from 0900 to 1300 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Those younger than 18 will be allowed out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 1400 to 2000, the region’s crisis staff decided.

Social distancing and other protective measures still needed to be observed, it added.

Bosnia has officially recorded 1,421 cases and 55 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

In a response to an appeal by a group of citizens, Bosnia’s Constitutional Court concluded this week that their rights under the country’s constitution, as well as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, had been violated.

The crisis staff said it could also soon take moves to partly re-open the economy, provided there was no surge in new cases, hospitalisations or use of intensive care units. Lockdown measures could be re-applied if necessary.

Even before the pandemic, Bosnia’s health system was in poor shape. Large numbers of doctors and nurses have sought work in Western Europe, causing fears that the country may soon have too few medical staff to cope.

Both of Bosnia’s autonomous regions, the Federation and the Serb Republic, have introduced a night-time curfew.

(Reporting by Maja Zuvela, editing by Larry King)