Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Pelješac Bridge Finally Completed!

July 28, 2021 - What always seemed to be an unattainable dream (even in recent years) is now a reality: the Pelješac bridge has been completed tonight and Croatia is one again.

The impossible is no longer so, and as of tonight, the Croatian territory reconnects with Dubrovnik via the Pelješac bridge, and the Neum corridor will no longer be the way to the Pearl of the Adriatic and back. Tonight at 11 pm, the last segment of the steel span structure of the Pelješac Bridge will be installed, which will connect the mainland from Komarna with Brijesta on the Pelješac peninsula. Although the vehicles will not cross the new bridge until June next year, tonight's connection of its construction will be one of the most important dates in the calendar of this, as the Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković called it: ''the project of all projects''.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and several of his ministers, present at a celebratory event. (Video: Index.hr)

The project started on several occasions, but for various reasons, it stalled until a contract worth half a billion euros was signed in April 2018, of which the European Union gave as much as 85 percent. The contract entrusts the construction to the Chinese consortium China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), one of the globally largest and most experienced in such works. It was also the first such project of a Chinese company in the European Union.

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic shared an emotional post on his Facebook account, reflecting on the importance of the project for the Pearl of the Adriatic, and the story behind it. ''After 303 years, the extreme south of Croatia will be connected to the mother country, and we, the inhabitants of this part of Croatia, will cease to be second-class citizens waiting in a column at the border crossing for transit from one part to another. In recent days, many have been trying to direct the historical chronology of the Pelješac Bridge towards one, two, or some third option'', he wrote in his Facebook post. Franković also thanked PM Andrej Plenković, and he ended his post by saying that ''to the questions of what the bridge should be called, the answer is actually simple: the Pelješac Bridge and let it be guarded by St. Blaise and St. Rocco.

Likewise, the publication was accompanied by a video in which the progress of the bridge can be seen until a few days ago. You can see it below:

When talking about the impossible, it is precisely difficult not to go back thirty or twenty years, and remember the times when the project was groped around but without any concrete plan. Even since the project began three years ago, there have been many, many occasions where political tensions and doubts arose not only about its completion but about its development itself.

Now, the Peljesac bridge is a reality after the tireless and titanic efforts made in these three years and not only because of the demand for a bridge of these dimensions but also because of the area and the climatic conditions in which it was built. It is worth mentioning that the completion of the project has occurred in a very early period, and for this it would be necessary to work even at night and at dawn, taking into account the strong winds and storms that hit the area.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Mandy Fransz of Make the Leap Digital on the Digital Nomad Opportunity

July 28, 2021 - One of the star speakers of last month's Zagreb Digital Nomad Week was Mandy Fransz from the Netherlands. She caught up with TCN after a little relaxation on the Croatian coast.

It is a few weeks now since the conclusion of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021, the first conference of its kind in the Croatian capital. There was plenty of positive energy throughout the week, despite the heat, including several inspirational speakers. Among them was Mandy Fransz from the Netherlands, who flew in for the event, before continuing her Croatian nomad journey to the Adriatic, where she worked remotely for a couple of weeks after the conference. TCN caught up with Mandy to get her perspective on the future of remote work, and the opportunity for both Zagreb and Croatia.

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1. Your company Make the Leap Digital sounds like an exciting journey. How did it come to be? 

I quit my corporate 9-to-5 office job at LinkedIn's European headquarters in early 2018 without a solid plan. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to explore the opportunities to work and travel. I booked a ticket to Bali, Indonesia as I knew it was known as one of the most popular destinations for remote workers and digital nomads. I joined a co-working space as I believe in the power of networking with like-minded people such as remote workers and digital nomads and attended organized events, workshops, meet-ups etc. This is how I met my first freelance client, without having a website or even a registered business. Upon return, I decided to cancel my lease and moved all of my belongings to the Netherlands (I was living in Dublin, Ireland at the time) and registered my business Make the Leap Digital to help entrepreneurs and businesses to unlock the power of LinkedIn.

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2. I love this line on your website - What if I could teach others how to digitally transform the way they work — perhaps traveling the world while I’m at it?

Tell us firstly how much different your working day and approach is these days? Back in corporate, I was working a traditional 9-to-5 office job and at some point I was even expected to come into the office at 8AM. Since I quit my job, I work whenever and wherever I feel the happiest or most productive. I've been a digital nomad for 1,5 years and I've worked, lived, and traveled in beautiful destinations such as Bali, Portugal, California, and Colombia. I'm now based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and mainly work from home but when travel restrictions allow I love to go on a regular "workation" to beautiful places like Croatia for a change of scenery. This really helps to spark inspiration and creativity while having the freedom to travel and explore the country and culture during weekends. I now work with clients around the world from the comfort of my laptop either from home, a co-working space, or a nice cafe. But, most importantly -- I am grateful to help my clients to unlock the power of LinkedIn and remote work so they can digitally transform the way they work and they, too, can enjoy the freedom and flexibility to work from wherever they feel the happiest and most productive.

3. And now what about the challenges and obstacles to encouraging people to make that leap. How do people leave their comfort zone and take that leap? 

When I quit my job to explore the world of remote work, I had no idea how I was going to make this happen. The only thing I had was a big dream and the courage to take a leap of faith. Based on my experience, I'd say, think about what it is that you'd like to achieve within the next 5 - 10 years, and take small steps towards that big dream or ambitious goal. The best things happen outside of your comfort zone, and sometimes you need to take a leap of faith. Learn to embrace uncertainty and view failures as opportunities for growth. Believe me, the remote work opportunities are endless, especially now the pandemic has accellerated the adoption of remote work by at least 10 years. 

4. In Croatia, we are just becoming aware of the remote work opportunity and how it could shift things significantly. Paint us a picture. How do you see the workplace in 5 years? 

I believe that the traditional 9-to-5 office job will become obesolete and companies will need to adapt remote work to meet the changing demands of the global workforce. Different studies show that remote work not only increases productivity, but it also provides some key benefits such as lower real estate costs and attracting and retaining top talent worldwide. The traditional workplace will most likely transform into a central hub focused on in-person collaboration, creativity, and community, with an increasing number of co-working spaces. Additionally, companies will need to adopt sustainable remote work policies to digitally transform their workforce from culture, communication, and collaboration in order to thrive in a fully remote or hybrid environment. We've just gone through the world's largest remote work experiment, now it's time to take those learnings and embrace the potential of remote work in the long term.

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5. How does a city such as Zagreb prepare to meet this changing demand? 

I think Zagreb has done a phenomonal job by organizing and hosting the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week recently. At this stage, it is all about connecting different stakeholders from co-working spaces, tourism, hospitaliy, digital nomads and remote work advocates to learn from each other and to make sure everyone is on the same page. Now, the next step is to take small incremental steps towards your common goal to transform Croatia into one of the world's top destinations. Remember, remote work is a marathon, not a sprint.

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6. There is a lot of buzz about Croatia as the next digital nomad destination, especially with the new permit. How does Croatia rate on the scene in your opinion, and can you give us 3 quick wins to improve things considerably. 

Having experienced digital nomad life in Croatia for a few weeks now, I can definitely say that Croatia has all the key ingredients to become one of the world's top destinations for digital nomads and remote workers. You have it all: the culture, warm weather, great food, central location, fast Wi-Fi, and beautiful nature with a combination of mountains, natural parks, and islands with crystal clear water. If there's anything that Croatia can improve, I'd say focus on providing the best digital nomad experience by 1) investing in inspirational co-working spaces, 2) collaborating with different stakeholders to provide a great infrastructure from flexible gym memberships, mobile phone contracts, co-living arrangements and 3) building a community of like-minded people by organizing local events and meet-ups such as an interactive workshop, networking session, lunch & learn etc. 

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7. Tell us about your role in ZDNW, and why did you decide to come?

 I'm grateful for having been invited as one of the keynote speakers at the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week to host a session about LinkedIn - Online Presence and a keynote on The Rise of Remote Work. I've been in Croatia briefly in the past, and I always wanted to come back to explore the country and digital nomad scene. It was the perfect opportunity to learn about the culture, food, and digital nomad life while meeting an amazing group of like-minded people. After spending a week in Zagreb, I decided to extend my stay with a "workation" on the coast and visited Split, Hvar, and Brac. The whole experience far exceeded my expectations and I will definitely be back very soon!

You can follow Mandy Fransz via LinkedIn.

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Zagreb Stock Exchange Indices Go in Opposite Directions

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Wednesday changed slightly, going in opposite directions, while regular turnover was modest, however, overall liquidity was increased by the block trading in HT telecommunication company's shares, amounting to HRK 2.66 million.

The Crobex rose by 0.15% to close at 1,934.02 points while the Crobex10 dropped by 0.11% to 1,192.41 points.

Regular trading amounted to HRK 4.4 million, almost three million less than on Tuesday.

The total liquidity was increased by the block trading in HT shares in the amount of HRK 2.66 million, at a price of HRK 190 per share.

HT shares also generated a turnover of some HRK 203,000 in regular trading, closing at HRK 190.50 per share.

In regular trading, none of the stocks crossed the million kuna mark, the closest to it being Ericsson Nikola Tesla with a turnover of HRK 916,800. Its price rose by 0.30% to HRK 1,660.

Thirty-four stocks traded today, with 19 of them registering price increases, 9 recording price decreases and 6 remaining stable in price.

(€1 = HRK 7.523)

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Homeland Movement Accepts Miroslav Škoro's Resignation

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - The presidency of the Homeland Movement (DP) party on Wednesday unanimously accepted party leader Miroslav Škoro's irrevocable resignation as well as the resignation of secretary-general Dario Žepina, launching disciplinary proceedings against DP MP Vesna Vučemilović, who is Škoro's sister.

DP vice-president Mario Radić said that the party leadership concluded that preserving DP's stability was of the utmost importance at present and that "the party's unity was not in question at any moment, despite media reports to the contrary."

He added that disciplinary proceedings were launched against DP member and MP Vesna Vučemilović because she had abused her position in the party and caused harm to the party's reputation.

The disciplinary proceedings should be completed in 90 days and until then, Vučemilović's status and rights are suspended, it was said.

DP MP Stephen Nikola Bartulica said that he was sorry Vučemilović had walked out of today's party meeting, dismissing her claim, posted on her Facebook wall, that there had been attempts to silence and intimidate her.

DP Presidency member Igor Peternel expressed confidence that the party's future was not in question.

The DP will decide about its new leader in the autumn.

Radić reiterated that he would not run for DP president and that he was also not considering reactivating his term as a member of parliament.

DP officials said they did not expect their party group in the parliament to fall apart.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Confectioner Kraš Reports 64% Increase in H1 Profit

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - The Kraš confectionery group generated a net profit of HRK 21.9 million in the first half of 2021, an increase of HRK 8.6 million or 64.2% over the same period in 2020, according to its financial statement released on Wednesday.

Consolidated revenue reached HRK 488.2 million, up by HRK 30.4 million or 6.6%, with sales revenue totalling HRK 481.4 million. Sales revenue increased by 15.8% to HRK 257.7 million on the domestic market and by 9.1% to HRK 220 million on the foreign markets.

Expenditure increased by 4.2% to HRK 461.1 million. 

(€1 = HRK 7.523368)

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Croatia Logs 198 New Coronavirus Cases, 2 Fatalities

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - In the past 24 hours Croatia has registered 198 new cases of coronavirus and two people have died as a consequence amid 1,042 active cases, the national COVID response team reported on Wednesday.

There are currently 143 hospitalised patients and 11 of them are on ventilators.

A total of 146 people have recovered over the past 24 hours and 3,267 people are currently self-isolating.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case of the contagion was identified in Croatia, there have been a total of 363,039 people infected with the novel coronavirus, of whom 8,249 people have died and 353,748 have recovered, 125 of them in the past 24 hours.

To date, a total of 2,281,574 tests have been conducted, including 6,141 taken in the past 24 hours.

By 27 July, a total of 3,031,563  doses of vaccines had been administered, with 40.1% of the total population or 48.2% of the adult population having been inoculated.

Altogether, 1,628,084 people have received at least one vaccine dose, of whom 1,450,537 have been fully inoculated (1,403,476 persons have received two doses and 47,058 have received the single-dose Jannsen vaccine), which makes up 43.05% of the adult population.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

SDP Expels Six Prominent Members

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - Six prominent members of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) have not had their membership renewed following membership reviews in the party's Zagreb and Slavonski Brod branches, Hina learned unofficially.

The members in question are: MP and former cabinet minister Ranko Ostojić, MPs and former secretaries-general Zvane Brumnić and Nikša Vukas, MP Marina Opačak Bilić from Slavonski Brod, who was involved in a financial scandal, former head of the Zagreb branch Gordan Maras, and Tihomir Barišić, best man to former party leader Davor Bernardić.

The reasons for their expulsion are of a political nature. They were told that people who did damage to the party or refused to take an active part in recent local elections could not keep their membership cards.

With these decisions, the SDP has been left without four MPs and now holds 28 seats in the 151-seat parliament. The question is whether there will be more expulsions and how Bernardić will react, given that these are mainly his associates.

According to unofficial sources, the six expelled members were called by SDP leader Peđa Grbin to tell them that their membership would not be renewed.

After the membership review in Zagreb, it is estimated that of the previous 4,000 members about 1,700 are left now, as members who could not be contacted or have not paid their membership fees for more than a year have also been expelled.

Writing in a Facebook post, Maras said that he would never sell his views to win anyone's favours. "What matters the most to me is you who support me without any interest and just because you know that i am OK. There are stages in life and nothing happens without a reason. I believe i didn't let you down," Maras said in a message to his followers.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Defense Minister Mario Banožić: Problem of Substance Abuse Among Military Personnel Under Scrutiny

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Božinović said on Wednesday the Croatian Armed Forces had zero tolerance for drug abuse, and in the context of the latest drug abuse cases, the minister announced stricter control and disciplinary measures aimed at reducing drug abuse to a minimum and protecting the reputation of the Croatian Armed Forces.

Speaking to the press ahead of an inner cabinet meeting, Banožić said that in accordance with the Drug Abuse Prevention Act, the military police were implementing emergency control measures.

He confirmed that along with the four soldiers who had tested positive for drugs in early July, another three soldiers tested positive for illegal substances last Friday while one more soldier tried to avoid testing.

A total of 30 soldiers in barracks in Split, Ploče, Udbina, Delnice, Vinkovci and  Velika Gorica have been tested so far and drug testing will continue.

The minister expects everyone in the Armed Forces to make joint efforts to prevent drug abuse, announcing a set of measures to deal with this problem.

Banožić said the military police were still investigating recent suicide cases in the Armed Forces and that the public would be notified of the results of the investigation in due course.

The minister also announced increased counselling for members of the Armed Forces.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Taking a British Pet on Holiday to Croatia in a Post-Brexit World

28 July, 2021 - Brexit has caused all kids of havoc for Brits, who now find the EU not quite as accessible as before for longterm stays. Things are also a little confusing if you plan to take your British pet on holiday. Delighted to welcome Mikki Hall in Osijek to TCN with some first-hand advice and experience. 

Dogs with dual nationality

Pet-friendly hotels and holiday lets are amongst the most popular online searches. In 2019 Forbes published an article that said: Over two million pets and other live animals are transported by air every year in the United States, more than four million worldwide, according to the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association. United alone transported 138,000 animals in 2017.”

In the UK, we have all become used to taking our pets on holiday, especially to France or other EU countries, with ease. This became even simpler after 1st October 2001, when the EU introduced the Pet Passport (PETS scheme), under which animals from any member country could freely travel to any other member country.

With the arrival of the summer holidays, more and more stories have started to appear around the difficulties people are having crossing the French/UK border. So, what’s changed?

Invalid pet passports

You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland. On the other hand, you can still use a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland to travel within the EU or to come to the UK.

My friends who travel frequently to their holiday home in France have both a French and GB pet passport for their dog. Yes, pets are getting dual nationality. They also noticed that taking your pet on holiday has become a lot more expensive. Earlier this year they paid £173 to take their pet dog on holiday with them.

However, if your pet does not have dual nationality and you want to take it on holiday there is a workaround, as long as they have the following:

  • a microchip
  • a valid rabies vaccination
  • an animal health certificate
  • tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta

These requirements also apply to assistance dogs. In addition, you must need to ensure that you go through one of the approved points of entry on arrival.

Putting pet travel into practice

Last year we travelled from the UK to Croatia with our adorable labradoodle, Buddy. Initially, we wanted to fly, and we found that we could do so with Croatia Airlines - the only airline offering the service.

However, there’s a catch. Croatian Airlines transports animals from the UK to Croatia, but they don’t transport animals on flights from Croatia to the UK. So, you can fly your pet on holiday, but you can’t take them back home.

Many people travelling from the UK to Croatia opt to use the pet taxi service or ask a family member to transport their pets for them. Here is where you run into the second post Brexit change. At the French border, some people are being told this is no longer allowed and owners must now travel with their pets.

Is this a change of rules, or Border Officials simply misunderstanding the changes?

What are the new rules?

EU guidance on pet travel is very clear. As a rule, pets should travel with their owners. However, the owner may give written permission to another person to accompany their pet on their behalf. The owner must be reunited with their pet within five days of its relocation.

Yes, Border Officials simply misunderstood the rules.

Adopting a pet

It is not only the French officials who are misunderstanding the new rules.

Last year a friend of mine adopted a rescue dog in Croatia. She contacted DEFRA for advice and guidance. As with the French Border Officials, DEFRA does not always give correct advice.

In this instance, they classified the dogs under the same rule as moving cattle and sheep. This legislation is relevant only to businesses moving a large number of dogs for commercial reasons, and not for the movement of a single pet.

So, we contacted DEFRA on her behalf and got to speak to an official who had access to the right guidance.

In summary, if you are adopting a pet from an EU country:

  • your pet needs to have an EU pet passport, be microchipped and have all relevant vaccinations
  • pet details need to be entered onto the IPAFFS system to obtain a UNN (unique identification number). The IPAFFS system is used to notify enforcement authorities about the import of live animals into Great Britain
  • if you are not traveling with your pet, you must give your friend a letter or authority or use a registered pet transport carrier
  • you need to complete a written declaration stating that pet’s relocation is for non-commercial reasons.

With all of that in mind, our little dog had a bag full of paperwork to accompany him on the journey to the UK. He arrived in London safe and well and is living happily with his new owners.

In summary, taking your pet on holiday is still possible, but you need to plan, plan, plan and be prepared for higher costs.

If you are planning to travel with your pet, make sure you know the rules. Even better, reach out to an expert who can help. The rules are very new and even those who should know are still learning!

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Zrće Beach Has More People Tested Than in the Rest of Croatia

July 28, 2021 - The new ECDC map, which places the Croatian coast in an orange zone, has alerted all localities and tourism boards in the region. Some destinations, such as Zrće beach on the island of Pag, have adopted their own measures and requirements to combat the pandemic effectively and save tourism.

After last week's session of the Government, when it was said that new measures apply to Dalmatian counties this week, which primarily emphasizes the control of the implementation of already introduced anti-pandemic measures, Večernji List interviewed Zrće beach concessionaires and Noa Beach Club owners to find out what this means for them.

The new measures came into force today, what do you plan to actually change compared to the previous measures? Will there be parties on Zrće beach?

"There will be entertainment and tourism, we are not giving up on the season or our business. The catering industry, as well as the organizers of concerts, festivals, and traditional events and musicians, are definitely among the most affected groups. We all struggle with the same problems. Precisely because we knew what all could await us this season, we were ready from day one. For a start, all our 400 employees were vaccinated with two doses of vaccine", says Josipa Žižić, spokesperson for the Noa group, and adds: "We were the last to go to the Noa Beach Club with the opening, to make sure everything was according to protocol. We have 100 people in the security of all entrance routes and 4 teams of medical staff for testing and verification''.

''We adhere to everything that the Headquarters and the Institute point us to. At the moment, we only let people into the facilities who have been vaccinated, have a PCR or Covid antigen test made when entering the Covid free zone. We use the CovidGO mobile application, which reads the correctness of EU digital COVID certificates, and which is impossible to bypass, and if all the conditions are not met, we do not allow entry. We go a step further, we plan to introduce even stricter measures - a quick test will no longer be valid for 48 hours, each entry will mean a new test and a spot check that the test is negative. I think that this direction is good, considering that we have not had any infected people yet and that everything is going according to plan without any complications."

Are there any plans to tighten more measures on Zrće beach, if possible, given that you are already adhering to all the prescribed measures?

"Every day, over 4,000 people enter through our three checkpoints. From 01.07.2021, we test over 1000-1200 people every day at a total of three entrances with over 20 wardens. At the same time, we control the entrance to the beach and the control of the entrance to the clubs, which would mean that each visitor goes through the checkpoints twice, all for the purpose of respecting the measures and quality control of our visitors and their safety. For each entry to the beach, in the Covid free zone, it is necessary to have a Covid passport proving vaccination, ie that they have overcome the disease in the previous 180 days, have a PCR or rapid test. All those who do not have a Covid passport issued for vaccination or overcoming the disease, will have to, according to the next stricter measures we plan to introduce, make a test that is valid only for that one entry", said Sime Oštarić, director of Nasa doo. We also asked what exactly these stricter measures mean: “With each entry, visitors will have to have a new test, so we will even leave the practice of 48 hours of the valid test. There are currently no infected people on Zrće beach, tourism has been taking place here for some time, and there are no hotspots, with these measures I do not know how it would be. Even the Hideout festival was canceled, which was usually attended by a lot of visitors from Great Britain", answers Oštarić.

"This is what we live on, it is in our least interest for anyone to leave Zrće beach infected. We plan to continue to follow the instructions and, I repeat, tighten the measures. If all guests are vaccinated, if they take a test on the spot and if we no longer allow even a 48-hour test, and later we only receive vaccinated on the model of Greece, which has already started to do so, then really the danger of hotspots should not and will not be. So far, we have controlled over 60,000 people and tested over 20,000, and statistics show that 90% of our guests are vaccinated mostly with two doses of the vaccine. Moreover, since the beginning of the season, in total with the city of Novalja, at 6 points, we have tested more visitors than the whole of Croatia", adds Žižić.

One of the suggestions was on-site vaccination?

"As we announced, we plan to soon introduce a measure according to which only vaccinated guests can enter, just as Greece has already done. Regarding vaccination on the spot, we discuss this with the competent institutions, we will be guided by their instructions, recommendations, and possibilities. But this is certainly another method that we are willing to implement and organize so that Zrće beach and Noa remain a safe place as before", Žižić answers.

If you want to know more about Zrće and the island of Pag, be sure to check the Total Croatia guide, where you will find everything you need to know from how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, and what to do on one of the most popular islands of Croatia. Now in your language!

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

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