Usually at lunchtime, restaurants in Pristina are full of customers but these days it is the silence that is most deeply noticed by passers by.
To stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Kosovo government has imposed a new set of measures, and restaurant owners complain they are affected the most.
Petrit Kllokoqi, owner of Pristina’s Bagolina restaurant, has found an original way of protesting against the measures.
Instead of actual diners, Kllokoqi on Thursday installed a dozen shop mannequins sitting in the restaurant chairs.
“We opted for a form of protest that does not spread the virus. We are not satisfied with the latest government decision to ban the activity of gastronomy,” Kllokoqi, also head of the Kosovo Gastronomers’ Association, told BIRN.
“The mascots will stay here in the next 11 days,” Kllokoqi added, referring to the length of the new government measures.
Two days ago, the Association of gastronomers warned of protests after the government imposed a new 12-day lockdown on Monday. Based on this decision, restaurants and cafes will be closed until April 18, though they are allowed to offer take-out and “drive through” services.
The decision came after Kosovo saw a hike in COVID infections at the beginning of April.
Deputy leader of Kosovo’s gastronomers, Veton Zuka, told the BIRN portal Prishtina Insight that the “political parties have lost their legitimacy to make decisions and close our premises when they held election [rallies] with 2,000 or 3,000 people”.
The had of the Economic Chamber, Berat Rukiqi, said on Thursday that in a meeting with the Minister of Finance, Hekuran Murati, the government agreed to pay 50 per cent of the salaries of workers in the sectors most affected by latest measures and would cover 50 per cent of rents for April.
“Compensations will be allocated at the end of April or the beginning of May,” Rukiqi said in a Facebook post.