Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - Part 7

By 28 June 2020

June 29, 2020 - Part 7 of Ivica Profaca's Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - you can start at the beginning here.

As a dedicated filmgoer, I just couldn't help it but think about a quote from Godfather (later also used in The Sopranos), which nicely describes feelings about the Coronavirus revival. You probably heard it before, it's famous Michael Corleone's "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" And it's really like that.

It's been more than a month since my last diary entry on Total Croatia News. Since May things looked maybe not good, but better. At one point, at least with the epidemiological situation in Croatia, one could have thought something like "So, this is how it will look when pandemic fades out." However, with borders opening, and an almost complete return of almost normal life, it was obvious that it might hit back. And it did. In only a few days, with a boost from the Adria Tour tennis tournament, the opening of night clubs, a few church events and imported cases from other countries (mostly those in the region), Croatia climbed up from zero to 95. If you regularly follow Total Croatia News COVID news, you probably know everything about. If you don't, follow it.

The new rise of COVID cases in Croatia (I believe this is not the second wave) created a big question mark above my head, and many other heads. Two days ago Croatia had the second biggest number of new daily cases ever (95, compared to 96 in April), and it brought a lot of questions. If we were completely locked down with 96, and I do believe it was a good decision, how come that with 95 cases we have all stores open, tourists coming in, night clubs working, beaches opened with barely respected restrictions, people sitting in bars and restaurants, masses, weddings, funerals, public transportation, etc. Whatever you can think of that was closed or banned less than two months ago, now is open, with only a few exceptions.  Experts are racing with explanations, so anyone can try to follow, but in case you were obeying what Civil Protection HQ was saying before, and have a basic fear of risky population being infected, what to do now? Well, maybe it will be more clear after the elections scheduled for July 5. I don't think every single thing or move depends on that, but some decisions definitely do.

To make things even more confusing, at least for me, is that I'm not sure if borders had to be open so soon, and so wide. Now there are restrictions for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Northern Macedonia, all passengers need to stay in 14-days self-isolation. On the other hand, it's easy to travel from some of the most affected European countries, like Sweden or United Kingdom. Actually, the only obstacle is the lack of flights. Some of the lines will be re-opened in July, and then it will be even easier. Did you see images from English beaches a few days ago? Well, are we sure we want to accommodate them in the name of reviving tourism? In spite of the fact that I will lose some jobs, I'm closer to a negative answer, because if we rush, the finale might be postponed. Some will say "You are panicking, change of reaction on a new case is proof that Coronavirus is just a big scam". Call me whatever name you like, but I really don't think such claims deserve a reply.

This growth of new cases number brought also some problematic interpretations, not in Croatia but abroad. For example, The New York Times published a colored map, with Croatia being the only European Union country painted in red, which always means alert. They used a very strange methodology; calculated in percentages increase of seven-days average of new cases in previous two weeks. Thus, Croatia looks like a disaster, because the average number rose from 0.7 to 46 in the period observed. Theoretically, some country could have had an increase from 1000 to 10,000, and it would still be below Croatia.

By coincidence, a new outbreak arrived at the same time with the first new booking in my calendar in months. I think the last one I received was sometime early February. A group of four wants tours in Split and Trogir, and a full-day trip to Hvar, in late August. Looking at that e-mail was like meeting an old friend.

Will it really happen? I have no idea, just as it's completely uncertain what will happen with the last bookings still alive in 2020, all of them in September and October. Besides those two new dates, there are only seven that survived. Last season it was my weekly average. Knowing that most of them are from other continents, it's hard to believe in having those jobs done. Even harder with the recent announcement that the EU might ban US, Brazilian and Russian travelers when it reopens its borders on July 1. I promised Paul Bradbury that I will write a story about the first post-COVID tour, but even if you like what I write here you will have to wait for some more time, unless something suddenly changes. I can only regret not being good enough as a student to learn German, because some dear friends among the guides had this year's premiere with some of those few tourists, mostly from Germany and Austria, who arrived in Split.

Catching up with bookings became very dynamic. When I started writing this piece, I had a total of ten dates booked, including two that just arrived. Then, halfway through, I checked the news in the cruise industry, and found out that the last ship I had booked was cancelled. So, don't blink too long, who knows what can happen.

We will be following Ivica Profaca's journey through the rocky weeks ahead.

If you find yourself in Split, or are planning a post-corona visit, check out his range of tours on his website - families, look out for the kids tour of Diocletian Palace. It will not only entertain your kids while allowing you to absorb this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it will bring out the inner child in you too. Learn more about it here

You can read other parts of Ivica's Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona series here.

(To be continued)