Serbia is a unitary parliamentary democracy with a codified constitution. Its National Assembly is unicameral, directly elected, and composed of 250 MPs. The National Assembly elects its President (the Speaker), who represents the Assembly, convokes its sessions, presides over them, and performs other activities laid out within the Constitution, the National Assembly Act, and the Rules of Procedure.
The Constitution envisages three levels of governance: central, provincial and local. Although municipalities play an important role in providing social and health services, the central government takes priority in the event of a conflict. Many services are regulated by statute but managed – with considerable discretion – by local government. Health and social protection fall within the concurrent competence of local self-government bodies. Serbia boasts a universal health care system, managed by the National Health Insurance Fund, which covers all citizens and permanent residents. There is a wide network of public care institutions owned and controlled by the Ministry of Health. Primary care is provided in health care centres and health care stations throughout the country, which provide different services. Secondary and tertiary health care services are offered in health institutions across the country, including general hospitals, specialized hospitals or institutes, and academic hospitals.
The Government has enacted public health measures in different forms, but mainly as a Decree or a Decision. The legal basis for the adoption of public health measures before and after the state of emergency has been based on two acts, adopted before this crisis emerged: the Protection of Population from Infectious Diseases Act and the Act on the Reduction of Risks from Catastrophes and on the Management of Emergency Situations.
The first main public health measure is the Decree on measures during a state of emergency from 16 March 2020, adopted by the Government with the co-sign of the President of the Republic, and confirmed by the National Assembly on 29 April 2020. It ceased to be valid on 7 May 2020, when the state of emergency was lifted. Another significant decision is the Decree on measures for prevention and control of Covid-19, adopted by the Government on 7 May 2020 pursuant the Article 6(1) of the Act on the protection of population from infectious diseases. It ceased to be valid with the adoption of the new Decree on measures for prevention and control of Covid-19, which entered into force on 16 December 2020. However, many other bylaws have introduced special health measures. The role of local governments in enacting public health measures has been significant, as they have the ability to proclaim an emergency situation under the Act on Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Management. The latter Act prescribes in Article 5 that in a time of crisis, local governments have a primary role in disaster risk management.
A complete list of public health regulations is published on the website of the Covid-19 Information system, but there is no summarized discussion of each instrument.