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Bosnian institutions soon back to business in lockdown exit

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The institutions in Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation will return to business as usual on May 11 under the next phase of gradual exit from the coronavirus lockdown, the region’s government said on Friday.

Bosnia, which has registered 2,070 cases of COVID-19 and 98 deaths, declared a nationwide state of emergency on March 17, after the Federation and the Serb Republic, its other autonomous half, separately declared emergencies and introduced measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Both regions have gradually begun to ease lockdowns.

The fresh measure means all public administration will return to normal working hours as public transport is expected to reopen. Physical distancing and other protective measures will still need to be observed.

Wholesale trade businesses and retail shops, as well as hair-dressing and cosmetic salons, reopened from May 1. Owners must provide disinfection of hands and footwear for customers and disinfect premises each day before opening.

The Federation civil protection authority also said on Friday that kindergartens, dental clinics and restaurants and bars with oudoor patios and spaces might also reopen next week.

The Serb Republic already loosened restrictions on April 28, allowing seniors to leave homes for three hours each workday and some businesses to reopen. Its officials announced on Friday they may end the state of emergency by May 20.

Bosnia’s economy has been hit hard by the lockdowns and the closure of many businesses. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast growth to shrink 5% this year.

Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne