SKOPJE, North Macedonia ( Associated Press) – 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 Sundays or any day with high pollution, and other outdoor activities will be limited.
Till Monday, construction work can be done only between 11 am to 5 pm. The authorities have also asked pregnant women and people above 60 years of age to be exempted from reporting for work.
The government also announced it would 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 act.
The new rules coincided 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 that day, after Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and Lahore in Pakistan. According to IQAir, the level of toxic particles in the air in Skopje was 28 times higher than the standard set by the World Health Organisation.
For years North Macedonia has been one of the most polluted countries in Europe. Health officials estimate that more than 3,000 people die each year due to pollution in this country of more than two million people.
The pollution is mainly caused by the use of wood stoves during winters, old vehicles and the practice of burning garbage in some areas.