SKOPJE, North Macedonia (HPD) — North Macedonia has announced emergency measures in its capital Skopje and three other cities due to high levels of pollution.
There will be no sporting events on Sunday or on any day with high pollution, and other outdoor activities will be limited.
As of Monday, construction work can only be carried out between 11 am and 5 pm The authorities have also asked pregnant women and people over 60 to exempt them from coming to work.
The government also announced that it will halve the use of official vehicles, and ordered the ministers of health and social welfare to house the homeless and increase emergency services for people with chronic illnesses.
The measures were announced on Saturday, after several days in which environmental groups called on the government to take action.
The new rules coincide with the announcement by IQAir, a Swiss air quality company, that the capital of North Macedonia was the third most polluted city in the world on that day after Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and Lahore in Pakistan. The levels of toxic particles in the air in Skopje, according to IQAir, were 28 times higher than the standard set by the World Health Organization.
For years North Macedonia has been one of the most polluted countries in Europe. Health authorities estimate that more than 3,000 people in this country of more than 2 million people die each year as a result of pollution.
Pollution is largely due to the use of wood stoves during the winter, outdated vehicles and the practice, in some areas, of disposing of garbage by incineration.