Albania’s Pre-Election Quarantine Order Slated as Voting Trick

The Kakavija crossing point on the border between Albania and Greece on 20 February 2021. Photo: LSA

The Committee of Experts that leads national policy on the COVID-19 pandemic ordered the obligatory period of quarantine for travellers from Greece and North Macedonia, emphasising that people with COVID-19 are obliged by law to stay at home, so removing the possibility for them to vote in Albania's parliamentary elections on Sunday.

"In [North] Macedonia and Greece, the number of cases and of lives lost has increased," Mira Rakacolli, deputy minister of health, told a press conference, justifying the order. "Starting from tomorrow, all these coming from Greece and [North] Macedonia should be quarantined for two weeks", she added.

Albania maintained a relaxed policy toward the COVID-19 pandemic over the last few months despite a fresh wave of infections and deaths. It has maintained a mostly open-border policy, except for halting flights to the UK due to concerns about the so-called UK variant of the virus.

The 14-day quarantine order imposed on travellers from Greece, only one week before the elections, has been greeted in some quarters with suspicion.

Vangjel Tavo, an opposition candidate seeking re-election in the southern region of Gjirokastra, which borders Greece and has an ethnic Greek minority, called the decision a "sabotage scheme" prepared by the ruling Socialists to stop emigrants from voting.

"They didn't bother much about people's health up till now but seem very concerned to block emigrants from Greece from voting against this corrupt government," Tavo told BIRN.

"Why did they not impose this measure on April 26 [the day after the election] instead of today?" he asked, rhetorically.  "Shame on them, they are...

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