Prime Minister’s public communication on progress of Phase II and gradual reopening

Good evening!

Is the virus active on Saturday and Sunday alone and are there time slots different from the one used to fight the virus?

I decided to commence the today’s communication with this absurd question, because I happen to constantly read comments and commentators, who, because of their ignorance and impatience, are continuously throwing insults and curses, primarily at me, regarding the time slots when people are allowed to leave homes. It is very easy, indeed. It would merely take only desire to listen and reason. Whole dynamic of this war, which will increasingly become a daily battle of each of us with ourselves, since day one, primarily depends on the level of the population’s exposure to the virus.

If it was not to figure out why during the First Phase the time when people were allowed to leave homes and move was limited to shopping and working only, the Second Phase started with a series of eased measures, determining various areas and different time slots, just like I believe it is no longer hard to understand that with the time and travel restrictions completely lifted in the so-called green zones, or extended to 09:00 pm in the red zones, the level of exposure is much higher on Saturdays and Sundays if free driving of cars is allowed and everyone, without exception, is allowed to leave homes to enjoy this beautiful and inviting weather. So, it is not the virus that fights at certain hours, neither it carries out armed patrolling in the red zones on Saturdays and Sundays, but it is us trying to protect as we carefully keep reopening and the space of our movement further expands.

I have always known and since day one I have told you all what a war of nerves and extreme challenge of patience this could have been a heck of a story. If many pour cold water on us today by playing the smart guy and making fun of everything we have done to date, because they wrongfully thing this was of no avail since we counted no thousands of dead, even not hundreds of dead, the truth that every sober-minded individual knows is that we didn’t go through the terrible suffering of many other countries and nations precisely because we did what we did and we are doing what we are doing.

Massachusetts is praised worldwide as the state with the most fantastic health system in the United States. It has twice the population of Albania and it is still closed today, while it has recorded over 6,000 deaths so far. Why? Precisely because it failed to what many of this page followers call them nonsense and cite the example of Sweden, Bill Gates’ conspiracy to use the Covid-19 vaccine to implant a microchip in the body of Laç and Myzeqe residents, so that he can control their thoughts, the great global conspiracy to kill the elderly so that capitalism doesn’t have to spend a lot of many in pensions for these people and every other sort of fantasies and absurdities of this kind being spread “by the academic world of the social networks.”

Do you know that Sweden has today the highest Covid-19-related deaths rate per one million people on the planet, whereas Albania has one of the lowest? Sweden is not the country where people high-five and hug each other, it is not a country where 500 people participate in a wedding party, without taking into account the fact that the Swedes need neither the police or the army to patrol the streets and roads when the government tell them to observe social and physical distancing, don’t gather on the streets and don’t attend birthday parties or funerals.

Now many have started claiming and alleging that whole world has already reopened, whereas Albania is keeping the lockdown measures still in place, just because this is what I do order, according to them, while most recently it has turned out that the crowds of noises with Molotov cocktails, flamethrowers, road blocking and election boycotts were all aimed at the Theatre, Shakespeare and Moliere?

Which world has been opened more than Albania today? During the Second Phase? Where?

Just go to Greece and try to take a stroll or drive beyond the borders of the prefectures there. Go to Italy and try to drive your cars from north to south as you wish. Just visit Spain and try driving to the beaches there or elsewhere and you would figure out that we are actually taking steps in compliance with a well-thought plan and not slowly. Quite the contrary, indeed! We are ready to open the land borders, but you know that we have to receive the accord from the countries we have established direct air transport links, because, if not such an accord is  received, if we decide to open with other countries it would be these other countries that won’t open with us. Have you followed what is currently happening with the free movement among the EU member states themselves and do you know that Schengen zone will remain closed until June 15, while flights among the EU member states are also suspended for now? Whatever!

Whoever feels better by throwing insults, making fun or levelling accusations, let them keep doing so; this is not a problem at all. Facts are facts and the fact is that some don’t care about true facts, but rely on unfounded talks and accusations extracted from the nets of the digital spiders, yet this doesn’t actually change the truth. The truth is clear to anyone who has eyes to see and ears to listen, brain to think that in this global war against what was called an invisible enemy all over the world, we, Albania has been hailed as a success story which will be remembered and written in the history book of this country and this pandemic. That is all!

Virus is not gone, it is still with us and the prospect of a new wave of infections is not like the danger from an imaginary revolution of those who were seeking to turn the ramshackle Theatre building into the new tent of that revolution and scare the world with the Taliban who emerged in Albania. The danger of a new chain of infections is a real and in the meantime we will open the land borders to all Albanians in the neighbouring countries, be them Albanian, Kosovo, Macedonian, or Montenegrin passport holders, starting June 1. In the meantime, we will continue to issue our appeal for utmost care to anyone!

We will open our borders on June 1, but not the beaches. I have been harshly criticized and insulted by beachgoers in Dhermi yesterday after the State Police dispersed and ordered them to go home. No problem! I am used to abusive speech and unfounded accusations and here I am, but I am not going to act the good guy to give way to evil. No country in Europe has opened its beaches as of today. No country has opened beaches yet. Why some become increasingly angry when we do the same thing, while they are utterly silent when abroad.

However, this week, we will complete the beach management system, where, due to the current situation, we will uncompromisingly punish “the occupied sand” principle with tents and sun loungers. Greece has decided to open its beaches on July 1, other countries have yet to make a decision, whereas we will open them to hotels on June 1 and by June 10 to everyone else.

A temporary authority tasked with private beach licensing will be established this week, while, as always, the revenue will be transferred to local government authorities. No previous contract will be recognized as valid one if not confirmed by the licensing authority and no new contracts will be approved by local government authorities without preliminary approval by the licensing authority. We want the Albanian hospitality industry work with its full capacities, facing no unfair and illegal competition in the beach service offer. We want to see Albanians wanting to spend their vacations at public beaches, without having to pay, and we want provide them this opportunity so that nobody imposes the strongman or the accomplished fact tax on them. We want this season becomes operational for the tourism industry, but also ensuring that it doesn’t make it impossible for us to cope with the invisible enemy that many have started making fun of, but the result of forgetfulness, negligence and uncaring behaviour by people could turn out to be catastrophic again.

That’s why, dear brothers and sisters, let’s go on moving forward together and heal the wounds this pandemic has inflicted upon our economy, without letting our health be affected. This will be the last week when restrictions will be applied in Tirana and other cities. But the rule on car-free weekends will remain in force during the next two weekends. However, the car-free rule will be reinstated to be applied every weekend or every Sunday at least from October to next March as a weekly moment dedicated to environment, the elderly people and our children.

A new transport strategy will be ready by end of this month and various public transport lines will open partially and gradually by implementing an overall sector reform with the state’s direct participation to ensure new standards, not only in terms of health protection for now, but also to significantly improve and increase quality of the public and inter-urban transport in the future.

We will soon also unveil a post-pandemic social and economic recovery plan designed to return normality regarding the state budget revenue and income for the Albanian households in the last four months of this year. The plan also aims to make sure that the next year marks a new leap forward thanks to the new package of reforms under this new national plan.

We are now taking the final steps in the preparatory processes of the post-earthquake reconstruction programme and new sites for the construction of the new individual homes, school buildings, kindergartens and healthcare centres will open in the next 45 to 60 days. Meanwhile, much larger construction sites will open in autumn to build new residential neighbourhoods in Tirana and Durres, along with construction projects in Laç, Kruje, Fushe-Kruje, Shijak, Vore etc., where we will initially start with the construction of new residential blocs, which will represent the face of an incredible urban and social transformation.

I hope we will conclude by fall all the processes that were suddenly suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, namely the new Vlora international airport, new Milot-Thumane-Rrogozhine-Fier highway, Tirana–Durres railway, as well as finalize the construction program of the Saranda airport together with the Llogara tunnel and completion phase of the Qukes-Qafe Plloçe road. In the meantime, work to construct new road axis linking Shengjin and Velipoja, Orikum and Dukat, and Vlore, Radhime and Orikum will kick off in the next 9 to 10 days, along with a series of smaller projects, but with a significant economic and social impact on local communities in many neuralgic points of our country’s organization.

Patience and trust, dear friends!

We are not the best, but I believe you increasingly become aware of the fact that nobody has been and nobody is better than us and this will certainly be the case for many years to come. Because we are the only one who say what we can do and do what we say. Time will unequivocally show that under our government Albania became a much better country and much more respected than it used to be in the international arena.