On March 30, a newly-created Twitter account “StopSerbiaDogWalkingBan” @DogSerbia posted a tweet saying: “In Serbia, the #Covid19 curfew means we can’t walk our dogs for up to 14 hours at a time. It causes so much unnecessary suffering.”
The claim is true.
Two days earlier, the Serbian government announced new stricter nationwide curfew measures in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Among the new restrictions: walking back on pet walks.
“Guided by the expert opinion, the government of the Republic of Serbia has decided to withdraw the decision on the allowed walk of pets for 20 minutes between 20.00 and 21.00” (8 p.m. and 9 p.m.), the announcement read.
It also extended the 3 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew on weekdays to include the weekends.
Initially, the Serbian government’s COVID-19 curfew allowed dog-walking for up to 200 meters outside the home and 20 minutes between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The dog-walking ban outraged Serbian dog owners, the Associated Press reported.
Serbia’s prominent animal rights groups and veterinarians published an open letter to the president and the government to back off.
“The decision threatens the dogs’ physical health, and the mental health of their respective owners, which are elevated in a situation of stress,” the letter stated.
Now, the only exceptions to the curfew apply to people in urgent need of medical assistance and farmers delivering groceries to urban stores.
Violating the curfew is a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to 150,000 dinars ($1,406) and/or up to three years in prison.
Videos tracking dogs walking outside during the curfew hours can be seen posted by the Serbian news channels.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard, Serbia has recorded 785 confirmed coronavirus cases and 16 deaths from the disease by March 30.