Thursday, 7 April 2022

Croatia To Abolish Practically All Coronavirus Restrictive Measures On Saturday

ZAGREB, 7 April 2022 - Croatia's COVID-19 crisis management team stated on Thursday that COVID protocols would be abolished on Saturday and only the protective mask mandate remains in place in medical institutions and nursing homes.

Practically all the current restrictions imposed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic will be lifted at midnight Friday, said the team's head, Interior Minister Davor Božinović.

Wearing protective masks in public spaces will depend on individuals and sanctions will no longer be imposed for failure to wear masks, Božinović said, explaining that they are still obligatory in hospitals and care homes.

Entering Croatia

EU citizens can enter Croatia without any requirements, while those arriving from other countries are required to produce COVID certificates upon entering Croatia.



For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Relaxation of Croatian Covid Measures Coming as Easter Approaches?

April the 7th, 2022 - Relaxations to current Croatian covid measures, which are already fairly loose, are set to occur as the Easter period approaches.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the new Croatian covid measures, or more precisely the measures which are set to be relaxed, haven't yet been officially defined, but should be agreed by Easter, when some concessions are planned.

According to Jutarnji list's interlocutors, Croatian covid measures related to limiting the number of people both indoors and outdoors, would be almost completely abolished. Covid certificates would no longer be required. Measures at the country's borders will remain as they are, in line with European Union (EU) decisions.

Most of the conversations taking place at the moment are about the basic Croatian covid measures, and that is wearing masks, which are currently an obligation in all indoor spaces. According to the currently prevailing view, masks would remain an obligation indoors where more people are expected to be, such as in shops and when using public transport. But it is likely that in the workplace, where it is currently mandatory to wear masks if it isn't possible to maintain the prescribed distance (two metres between individuals), it will become a mere recommendation.

In addition, there is a possibility that wearing masks in cinemas and theatres will remain at the level of a recommendation. There is an increasingly probable possibility that caterers will havethe right to use their full capacities from the pre-pandemic period and to abolish the obligatory spaces between tables.

''We believe that this is a moment that enables the greater mitigation of Croatian covid measures, and for several reasons. First of all, there are indicators from hospitals, ie a decrease in the number of hospitalised and people on respirators. We're also recording a decline in the number of newly infected people, and the fact that people will be spending more and more time outdoors. All of this is favourable,'' explained the interlocutor of Jutarnji list, pointing out that everything should be approached with caution because, he says, we have learned that the novel coronavirus can be unpredictable, but the current situation is in favour of loosening up and returning to a more normal life.

Additional concessions, according to the Ministry of Science and Education, would be in schools and colleges. Masks would no longer be required in the hallways, and professors and teaches wouldn't have to wear them unless they wanted to.

Despite the concessions, sources say, there are no plans to stop warning people about the possibility of spreading the infection, so the recommendation to wear a mask will be emphasised. In addition, hygiene, maintaining a distance and ventilation, they say, should be respected. Croatia had mild measures for most of the coronavirus pandemic, but now European countries which had more strict measures are also abolishing them. The UK was among the first to do so, where measures against the spread of the disease are virtually non-existent. In Switzerland, the obligation to wear masks in public transport and health facilities has also been abolished.

At the same time, while the measures are being relaxed, the profession is warning of a new strain of the Omicron variant, the so-called XE, which is said to spread 43 percent faster than the original Omicron, but fortunately doesn't appear to cause more severe forms of the disease.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Minister Announces More Relaxed COVID Protocols, Set of Healthcare Reform Bills

ZAGREB, 6 April 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Wednesday that the authorities were considering relaxing anti-epidemic rules this week, and also announced the first set of healthcare reform bills for the second quarter of 2022.

"There will be additional relaxation of (COVID-19) measures, possibly this week. Some of the restrictions will remain in effect in the social welfare and health sectors, because the epidemic is still here," the minister said after he formally opened a €3.5 million renovated operating block at Zagreb's Children's Hospital.

However, the minister did not specify how the COVID protocols would be further eased.

Package of reform laws for improvement of health sector

The minister announced the first package of laws for overhauling the healthcare system for the second quarter of 2022.

"The relevant laws are to be adopted by the parliament by the end of this year", he added.

"The reform does not mean a heap of papers or documents, it is a set of activities and measures, including the consolidation of public procurement, shortening of waiting lists, and overhauling the primary healthcare and hospital services", Beroš said.

Asked by the press whether he would be included in the announced government reshuffle, the minister said that "change is the only constant in life" but, in a comment on media allegations, wondered "where the truth has gone."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Croatian Covid Certificates Remain Necessary for Government Support

March the 29th, 2022 - Croatian covid certificates are going to remain necessary for companies to receive state/government support despite the fact that in most other places across the country and indeed across Europe in which they were once needed, they're being scrapped.

As Marina Klepo/Novac/Jutarnji list writes, employers operating within economic activities with reduced activity can continue to count on the government's job preservation aid for the months of March and April in the maximum amount of 4,000 kuna per worker, but they'll need to show they still have valid Croatian covid certificates

As reminded in the Ministry of Labour and Pension System, Family and Social Policy, "state support is approved based on a drop in income of 40 percent and more."

It is also awarded to employers from the areas where the earthquakes of 2020, those from Sisak-Moslavina, Zagreb and Karlovac counties, regardless of their sort of field or economic activity. Croatian covid certificates are still a condition for receiving any government support.

"Grants in the amount of 100 percent are received for all workers if 70 percent of them or more have Croatian covid certificates, and if there are fewer, then those grants are awarded proportionally," they said from the competent Ministry, which has been paying grants monthly since the global coronavirus pandemic began way back in March 2020 to try to preserve jobs.

About 13 billion kuna has been invested in these grants, and when contributions are added to that, the amount soars to a massive 17 billion kuna. Largely thanks to these subsidies, the Croatian market remained more or less stable during the height of the pandemic, and the number of insured persons has been growing almost continuously.

Back at the beginning of the year, the CES announced that it would continue to pay subsidies to employers who shorten their working hours due to business difficulties, but this is now possible in the amount of up to 50 percent, meaning that the amount of support per employee was reduced from a maximum of 4,000 kuna down to 2,000 kuna. Part-time support is mostly used in labour-intensive activities, such as in the textile, clothing, footwear, leather and wood sectors. At the end of last year, it was used by 2,368 employees.

Back at the end of December, the CES Council adopted a package of Active Employment Policy Measures for this year after the Croatian Government announced a new measure called "I choose Croatia/Biran Hrvatsku", which aims to "motivate the return of emigrants, encourage them to start a business in their homeland and encourage population regeneration in areas with pronounced emigration ".

Green and digital business

This year's measures are mainly a continuation of the measures that have been offered to companies before, from support for employment, internships, training and self-employment and more. In addition, part of the existing grants (those for self-employment and internships) has been extended to cover green and digital jobs.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

COVID Restrictions Likely to be Relaxed Next Week, Božinović Says

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that early next week the national COVID-19 crisis management team would probably relax restrictions on gatherings and some economic activities.

Despite today's minimal increase in new coronavirus cases, there have been significant decreases in new cases, hospitalisations and deaths in the past few weeks, which allows for returning to a regular work dynamic, he said at a cabinet session.

The population's immunity, thanks to recovery from COVID and vaccination, also allows for considering a relaxation of the protocols, he added.

Although the most important restrictions, on gatherings, crossing the border, shops' business hours, public transport, and wearing masks, are in force until the end of this month, those on gatherings and economic activities will probably be relaxed early next week, Božinović said.

According to him, there is no information that the Ukraine refugee wave has considerably affected the epidemiological situation.

Refugees are tested in reception centres and if they are positive, adequate accommodation is provided, he said.

70.6% of adults vaccinated

Health Minister Vili Beroš said that today 2,588 new COVID-19 cases were detected by PCR testing and 662 by rapid antigen testing, which is up 0.21% on the week.

Hospitals are gradually reducing their COVID capacity, which allows for providing more comprehensive care to oncology, mental and post-COVID syndrome patients, he said.

Based on the results of 2021 population census, 70.6% of the adult population has been vaccinated, he said, adding that as of today inoculation begins with Novavax, a new protein vaccine.

Beroš went on to say that since 25 February 249 medical services and 14 emergency medical services had been provided to Ukrainian refugees, that three had been hospitalised, and that five had tested positive for coronavirus.

Ukrainian refugees can get vaccinated against COVID as well as measles, mumps, rubella and polio, he said, adding that there is a big measles and rubella epidemic in Ukraine due to poor vaccination.

For more news about Croatia and the COVID situation, click here.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Prime Minister Says Government Measures to be Comprehensive, Good for All

ZAGREB, 15 Feb 2022 - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that the government's set of measures designed to cushion the impact of rising energy prices was comprehensive and would be good both for households and the business sector, and that they would be presented at 10 am on Wednesday.

"The measures... will alleviate, as much as possible, the impact of price growth expected as of 1 April," Plenković told reporters after a session of the HDZ Presidency and National Council but he would not reveal any details.

He would not say if it was true, as reported by some media outlets, that VAT on gas would be lowered while VAT on electricity would not.

Asked if Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić still enjoyed his trust following accusations by Ćorić's former assistant, a suspect in an investigation by the USKOK anti-corruption agency, Plenković said that Ćorić had already given a statement on that topic.

"The fragments of investigations that are being leaked are so small that they do not deserve any comment. Especially not mine," Plenković said, adding that the investigation was under way and that he did not want to comment on statements given in investigations.

Ćorić said earlier today that in 2019, as minister of environmental protection and energy, he had in no way favoured investors in the Krš-Pađene wind park who are under investigation by the USKOK anti-corruption office, of which he has been accused by his former assistant Domagoj Validžić.

Plenković said that he had never been contacted with regard to that topic, and that the questions one should ask are which term of government this incident occured under, and how the company in question arrived in Croatia.

"I hope the State Attorney General's Office is interested in that as well," he said. 

Asked about the renovation of the basement where his chief-of-staff Zvonimir Frka-Petešić keeps his books, Plenković said that the Državne Nekretnine state property management company would explain everything.

"That has nothing to do with him. This... shameful, orchestrated lynching campaign that has been going on against Frka-Petešić for a month is one of the more stupid, irritating and mean things in the media and internet sphere," said Plenković.

With regard to the Constitutional Court's decision to reject a motion by 35 opposition MPs and 28 other applicants who claimed that the introduction of the COVID-19 certificate mandate in the public sector had been neither constitutional nor lawful, Plenković recalled that Croatia probably had had the least strict COVID-19 rules.

"And yet you have petty politicians who even want to organise a referendum, even though we have enabled social activities, work, transport and education, a great tourist season, saved jobs, paid wages to 700,000 people in the private sector, saved 120,000 businesses, while GDP is expected to grow by more than 10% this year," Plenković said, noting that there was nothing surprising about the Constitutional Court's decision.

Answering a reporter's question, Plenković said that at today's meeting of the ruling coalition, the leader of the People's Party - Reformists, Radimir Čačić, had apologised for his statement about Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

"I told him that a partner should act like a partner. You act like the Opposition if you are the Opposition," said the PM.

Speaking in an interview with N1, Čačić said that as far as he was concerned, Banožić could leave tomorrow. "He causes harm to himself with the way he communicates, not to mention others. As far as I'm concerned, Banožić can leave tomorrow," the junior partner in the ruling coalition said.

Plenković said that Banožić was in charge of a HRK 7.2 billion budget and that he signed contracts for the procurement of the Rafale fighter jets and the Bradley fighting vehicles.

"Not many ministers have something like that in their careers. Only I decide about (whether a minister leaves), nobody else," he said.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Croatia Logs 49 COVID-19-Related Deaths, 2,730 New Infections

ZAGREB, 13 Feb 2022 - In the last 24 hours 2,730 coronavirus cases, out of 7,707 tests, and 49 related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Sunday.

There are 37,089 active cases, including 2,115 hospitalised patients, of whom 158 are hooked up to ventilators, while 19,497 persons are self-isolating.

To date 56.72% of the total population, or 67.48% of adults have been vaccinated, with 65.21% of adults fully vaccinated.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Croatia, 1,017,915 people have contracted the disease, while 14,473 have died.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Science and Education Minister Says Cancellation of Mask Mandate in Schools to be Considered

ZAGREB, 13 Feb 2022 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Saturday that the cancellation of the mask mandate in schools would be considered in the coming month if the self-testing of school children and the related cancellation of self-isolation proved effective.

According to the latest recommendations by the public health institute (HZJZ) for children and parents, students who self-test no longer need to self-isolate in case of contact with a person positive for COVID-19.

"If this proves effective and good, we will also consider that option in the coming month and discuss it with the HZJZ," Fuchs said in an interview with Nova TV when asked about an end to the face mask mandate in schools.

The minister also believes that the self-testing of students is not a belated measure, even though the number of new infections has been on the decline.

"We are not late (with self-testing). It has nothing to do with whether figures are falling or not. Right now we have a huge number of students in self-isolation and that could continue as long as there is a single positive case in a class. This measure was introduced exactly because of that," the minister said, confirming that the number of new infections was falling and that the trend was evident among students.

"... we have opted for this measure so that classes could be held face-to-face until the end of the school year," the minister said.

Asked if he had concerns about a response by antivaxxers to self-testing and possible protests outside schools, Fuchs said that he hoped there would not be any, that principals had been given instructions, that there could be no unannounced protests or demonstrations outside schools and that if they were held, police would be called in.

As for parents who do not want to test their children, the minister repeated that they would fill in a form withholding consent for that procedure and submit it to their child's teacher and the child would not have to undergo testing at home. However, if the child gets into contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19, they will have to self-isolate, he said.

Asked if he knew the number of children who would not self-test at home, Fuchs said that according to available information, the number was one or two students per class.

Asked if all children, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, should get tested if they get into contact with a positive person, the minister answered in the positive.

The minister also noted that the process of self-testing would not be controlled and that it was based on trust.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Constitution Committee Asks Gov't to Verify Signatures for COVID Referendum

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - The parliamentary Committee on the Constitution and Standing Orders on Thursday asked the government to verify the signatures collected for two referendum petitions by the opposition Bridge party and notify parliament.

The committee also asked the government to check if the signatures were collected in line with the valid Referendum Act.

The committee accepted Bridge president Božo Petrov's motion to include at least two representatives of each initiative in the signature counting.

One petition was for abolishing COVID certificates and the other for abolishing the national COVID crisis management team.

The committee did not accept a proposal to define a deadline for counting the signatures.

A reasonable deadline would be at least as long as it took Bridge to count the signatures, which is 30 days, Petrov had said.

The opposition was for tasking the State Electoral Commission with verifying the signatures as an independent body.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Health Minister Defends COVID Certificates, Testing Children

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš defended in parliament on Thursday the COVID certificate mandate and children testing as part of the fight against the pandemic and underlined the importance of vaccination because the tourist season could depend on it.

"One of the criteria the European Commission might consider for travel recommendations is the vaccination rate of the domestic population. If it is so, we'll have a problem and won't do well," Beroš told Emil Daus of the Istrian Democratic Party, who asked about plans for the summer tourist season.

Last year we were the champions of safety in the Mediterranean, but this summer the tourism situation might be bad and vaccination is the way out, Beroš said, adding that vaccines protect against serious illness and death also with the new variants.

Submitting a report on coronavirus protocols, he dismissed some MPs' claims that COVID certificates were pointless given that the vaccinated are contagious, too.

"COVID certificates don't represent absolute but optimal safety given what is being invested," Beroš said, adding that the vaccinated are far less contagious than the unvaccinated.

He said no EU member state had abolished the certificates and was not jumping to conclusions.

"Great Britain has abolished them, but it's not in the EU. Denmark is considering it but hasn't abolished them. Some countries with high vaccination rates are considering changing the application of COVID certificates, but are not abolishing them," the minister said, adding that the certificates are an instrument of the European Commission and that they enable travel.

As for the testing of children, Beroš said it was being introduced not only for health safety but to allow children to go to school. Testing is harmless and is being conducted in 16 European countries, he added.

Defending the justification of testing, the minister said that since it was introduced in the public sector, 1.6 million tests had been done and that 116,000 came back positive.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

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