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SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia’s government has ordered the winter break for students to be extended to Jan. 23 because of extremely high levels of toxic particles in the air in many cities throughout the country.

The government said in a statement Sunday that the measure is to “shorten the time of exposure of students to air pollution and to protect their health.”

City authorities in the capital Skopje also have introduced free public transport and have doubled the prices for parking in order to force people not to use private cars.

Extremely high levels of air pollution are because of people using wood stoves for heating and the presence of many old vehicles.

Toxic PM10 and PM2.5 air particles in the past few days were up to 10 times over allowed limits.