Following the exceptionally high levels of air pollution, the Macedonian Government was forced to order public institutions and to ask private businesses to allow elderly employees, pregnant and sick employees to stay home.

Concentrations of PM10 particles, emitted from burning wood and refuse for heat during the winter, reached extreme levels of over 300 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The situation is worst in the largest cities – Skopje, Bitola, Tetovo and Strumica – where the order for employees is in place, as well as an order to extend winter school vacation for two more days.

Skopje public transportation will be open free of charge on Monday in an attempt to reduce vehicle traffic.

Recommendations issued by the Government include delaying work hours for employees who work in the open, a call to cancel open air sports events, limited operations on construction sites and opening of additional homeless shelters.