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Kosovo mannequin protests against virus restrictions

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) – A restaurant in the center of Kosovo’s capital filled its tables with mannequins on Friday in a symbolic protest by the government against closing restaurants for two weeks in response to a wave of COVID-19 incidents.

Petrit Kllokoqi, owner of Bagolina in Pristina, brought the mannequins for breakfast and lunch.

“The government has not shown us any evidence that gastronomy is making a big splash,” Klokoki said.

The Kosovo government decided to close all restaurants earlier this week from April 7-18. The order concerns about 4000 restaurants and cafes with about 14000 employees.

Kosovo’s gross domestic product fell by 4.4% last year due to the epidemic, according to preliminary reports by the government and international organizations. The owners of the restaurants say that the financial support provided by the government is insufficient.

Klokok, who heads the Kosovo Gastronomy Association, said he had already laid off staff to stay in business.

“We can hardly survive like this,” he said.

Kosovo, with a population of about 1.8 million, has reported 96,212 confirmed cases and 1,601 viral deaths since the start of the epidemic.

Officials say hospitals are doing their best to raise the tide of about 1,000 new cases a day.

Kosovo launched its vaccines this month with the first batch of 24,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the World Health Organization-funded COVAX program.

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