Monday, 8 March 2021

Božinović: Difficult to Expect COVID Measures to be Relaxed as of 15 March

ZAGREB, 8 March, 2021 - The head of the national COVID response team, Davor Božinović, said on Monday that it is difficult to expect any further relaxation of measures after 15 March considering that numbers of new coronavirus cases are on the increase.

"At the end of the week we should decide on whether to extend the current measures as they expire on 15 March. It is still too early to say anything definite but considering the increase in numbers, it is difficult to expect any further relaxation of measures as of 15 March. We need to focus on maintaining the current measures so we don't have to go back," said Božinović.

Capak: 16% increase in new infections on the week

There were 94 new cases of coronavirus registered on Monday while 19 people died. The share of positive cases of the 2,178 tests conducted was 4.3%. That share was 8.6% in the past 7 days and 8.1% in the past 14 days. There are 805 hospitalised COVID patients, 74 of whom are on ventilators.

We have 16% more people infected on the week, the head of the Croatian Institute for Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, warned.

Croatia is currently in sixth place with regard to the incidence rate in the EU and 18th with regard to fatalities.

Capak said that an analysis of an immunology study conducted by the Zagreb Infectious Diseases Hospital could result in a new policy in the fight against coronavirus.

Anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 and has been given their first vaccine dose need not receive a second dose, he said.

Capak advised that the situation with the supply of vaccines has stabilised over the past two weeks and that another 62,400 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine is expected in two shipments this week.

Johnson&Johnson's vaccine should be registered by the end of March and the first shipment of 900,000 doses should arrive mid-April.

As far as crossing the border based on a certificate of vaccination is concerned, not one country has introduced that measure as yet.

"There are bilateral talks between countries and we have some bilateral talks too to mutually recognise vaccination certificates," said Capak. 

The look of the certificate, which is used only for medical purposes, has been defined for now while its use for crossing borders is being discussed at the EU level.

Beroš: Massive check points for vaccination test run

Health Minister Vili Beroš said that so far 54,008 people have registered online to be vaccinated and there have also been 4,271 calls in that regard.

"We are witnessing that massive check points for vaccination are a test run for what is to follow in the second and third phases, when more vaccines are expected," said Beroš.

We must not allow this mild increase in new cases to become a trend, he said. "Vaccination is encouraging but it must not be the cause of premature relaxation."

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Index: Cafe Terraces Open In Two Weeks If Numbers Stay Low

February 17, 2021 – Indoor sports return and cafe terraces open on Monday 1st March if infection numbers remain low, learns Croatian media outlet Index.

By the time spring arrives, Croatian coffee lovers should be back enjoying their drinks outside their favourite cafe bar. Cafe terraces open on Monday 1st March 2021 if Coronavirus infection numbers remain low and stay on their current trajectory, according to Croatia media outlet Index.

Indoor sports will also return on the same date, with the same stipulation that infection numbers remain low. Having cafe terraces open again cannot come too soon for frustrated business owners. At the moment, they are only permitted to serve coffee to go. According to Index, from on Monday 1st March 2021, cafe terraces open and people will no longer need to congregate on the street outside, in parks or on benches to enjoy their drinks.

“Measures should be further relaxed throughout Croatia as of March 1, including the much-anticipated opening of cafe terraces,” says the portal. Cafe terraces open and other relaxed measures depend on the prerequisite of figures remaining at the level they are at now. “The share of newly infected in the number tested in recent days is below five percent,” Index adds.

Headquarters and the government had already announced that the next round of concessions could be expected in early March.

restaurant-644504_1920.jpgCafe terraces open in Croatia from March 1st 2021, if Coronavirus numbers remain low, say media outlet Index

Croatian cafe terraces open, the interior of cafes and restaurants remain closed

“As we find out, the terraces of cafes and restaurants will definitely open on March 1,” wrote Index. “However, according to information from a source close to the Headquarters, the closed (interior) parts of cafes and restaurants will not be opened. (This) is realistically expected in April at the earliest.”

“Once cafe terraces open, guests will most likely not be able to enter the interiors of cafes and restaurants, except perhaps for the use of toilets, to prevent indoor parts of cafes and restaurants from being used and guests being served there. Closed spaces are still considered by headquarters (to be) an extremely high risk when it comes to the spread of coronavirus.”

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Further relaxation of Coronavirus measures: Indoor sports to return

According to Index, although the first information received said that from March 1, only indoor sports for children would be opened, the portal has discovered that instead all indoor sports should be opened, with prescribed epidemiological measures. They remind that, according to current measures, only gyms, swimming pools and contactless individual ball sports are allowed.

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Public gatherings / marketplaces / fairs

“There should be concessions when it comes to fairs, but it is not yet completely clear under what conditions,” says the portal. Like supermarkets, open-air and indoor markets are currently permitted to operate. The newly relaxed measures will pertain to similar, but more irregular events at which arts & crafts, books and other goods are on display for sale. The portal say that the vending and consumption of food – which is traditional at such events – will likely not be permitted for now.

“The headquarters is inclined to open fairs where products are sold or exhibited, but the consumption of food and drinks might be limited to prevent excessive gatherings and socializing,” they say.

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Relaxation of Coronavirus measures pertaining to private gatherings

“The allowed number of people at various gatherings should not change significantly, only minor corrections are possible,” claims the portal, adding that the current ban on the gathering of people from more than two households may instead be downgraded to a recommendation. The portal reminds that this measure has not been strictly enforced in any way before.

"To give way on March 1, the numbers have to stay at about the level they are now. But the pressure is great - no one wants to keep something closed that should not be kept closed. Most of it is already open, so there remains a narrow circle of what can still be given,” a source close to the Headquarters is quoted as telling Index.

Friction between regional and national authorities over easing of Covid-19 measures

Even if cafe terrace open on March 1st, Index concludes their article by reminding that a disparity between regional and national authorities is still causing some friction. The friction between two north-westerly regions of the country and national headquarters is specifically addressed.

“The Headquarters believes that the announcement of the Istrian Headquarters that they will open the terraces of cafes and restaurants on March 1 was very incorrect. They (national headquarters) say that this opening is planned at the level of the whole of Croatia anyway.”

“However, the decision of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar headquarters, which postponed the opening of bookmakers and casinos in that county, is perhaps even more critically commented on. The government states that the opening of bookmakers (betting shops) and casinos is a purely financial decision and ironically comments that if the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County wants to leave these facilities closed, they should (themselves) cover the costs that will be incurred,” says the Index article.

Index claims that these moves from Istria and Rijeka (Primorje-Gorski Kotar) are regarded in the National Headquarters and the government as politicking and that they are connected with the upcoming local elections.

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Friday, 12 February 2021

Davor Bozinovic Explains Details of New Measures Valid from 15 to 28 February

February 12, 2021 – At today's press conference of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic presented and explained the details of the new epidemiological measures announced by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković at yesterday's Government session. Namely, from February 15, caterers will be allowed to sell coffee to go, fitness centres, gyms, and bookmakers will be able to open. Students will be able to study in foreign language schools and in workshops.

The new eased measures, created by the Headquarters and the Government's reflection, will be valid until 28 February.

An epidemiologically, but also sociologically and psychologically justified approach

"We know how the situation can get worse in a short time. We don't expect this, but we must be careful. In the last seven days, we've even managed to get into third place in terms of incidence in Europe. But our primary interest is to lower the numbers of new infections so that, compared to other EU members, we now have the least stringent measures in Europe, which means that this effort is paying off. We must not relax totally, and just because we didn't do so before, we're able to ease some measures now.

February 28th is going to be here in less than two weeks, and from today we'll be thinking about measures that could be further relaxed if the trends remain like this. We don't know what that's all going to look like at the moment. Still, we're going to closely monitor everything that is happening, especially in regard to to the new variants, where the profession, primarily epidemiologists, have an essential role," said Božinović.

He added that they're advocating for a gradual approach that is epidemiologically but also sociologically and psychologically justified. From day one, they've been trying to learn as much as possible about the virus and society's behaviour, and they're also taking a new strain of the novel coronavirus and its appearance in Croatia into consideration. He spoke about the easing of the country's measures in five categories.

The delivery of food, beverages, and desserts from catering facilities:

Those who pick up food and beverages must not stay on the terraces and in front of the buildings or enter the buildings. While waiting in line, they should maintain space between each other and wear masks. Staying in front of the building shouldn't be encouraged by things like playing music, the terraces should be fenced off, and tables should be removed or arranged in a way that they can't be used. Notices must be posted on facilities prohibiting entry, the maintaining of social distancing, and so on.

2. Gyms and fitness centres:

The maximum number of people inside - one person pet 20 square metres - should be taken into account, as well as proper ventilation. If the building doesn't have such artificial ventilation, the premises should be ventilated every ten minutes. Exercise machines should be disinfected after each use. Users are allowed to use only their own towels and gym mats etc. They should avoid close contact and maintain a distance of four metres between each other. The use of shared showers is still prohibited. A list of such users must be kept, and masks must be worn on arrival and checkout, as well as during registration.

3. Language schools:

It's necessary to limit the number of users per group to maintain a distance of two metres. In addition, masks are mandatory. Lecturers/teachers must keep their distance from the participants/students, wear a mask or separate themselves totally plexiglas, they must also measure temperatures. A list of participants should be kept here, too.

4. Children's workshops and playrooms:

It's necessary to limit users to one person per seven square metres and highlight that notice at the facility's entrance. You should maintain a distance and wear masks, ensure disinfection, as well as the proper disinfection of devices and toys, and of course, measure people's temperatures when they enter.

5. Slot machine clubs, bookmakers, and casinos:

Betting places/bookmakers – epidemiological measures apply here in the same way as they do for stores, depending on the facility's size. The number of people entering should be limited. Users should wear masks and keep a distance from each other, staff also, who should be separated from users with plexiglas, and they should disinfect the facility.

Slot clubs and casinos – the number of users should be limited to one user per seven metres of gross usable space. The catering part of these facilities must be closed off. Catering services can't be provided in such facilities.

When asked why children who train indoors still cannot go to their training, and bookmakers are allowed to work, epidemiologist Bernard Kaić answered, but before that, Božinović pointed out:

"Graduality means that we can't let everything open at once. We're easing these measures in a certain order, about which we've concluded at meetings. Some arguments prevail a little more in some places, others do so in other places. Epidemiologists will create a framework by which almost anything can be maintained. Still, we're going to take care to adopt our measures that favour children, which was the argument when we opened schools. The profession recommends that when we ease things, we need to first give preference to children, schools, workshops, and playrooms because children are the ones who find living like this the most difficult to grasp. Those who are older can understand the situation better. We aren't comfortable making such decisions either, but we're making them together," said Božinović.

Basic rules: limit gatherings and use your own initiative:

"Every activity carries a risk. The epidemiological framework can provide guidelines for risk reduction, but in some situations, no epidemiological framework can eliminate the risk entirely, and then the priority activities must be determined. This was discussed at the Government and the Headquarters' meeting, and this all resulted from those negotiations. Children's playrooms also pose a risk, as do children's sports and going back to school and kindergarten and the like, as well as me just going to the market. But I prefer to go to the market than to do some other activities. I agree that if all measures were eased up at once, we'd very easily have an increased number of patients. Yesterday, a Government Council member stated that there are only three basic rules: limit gatherings, small groups, and take the initiative. All of these measures that are introduced or relaxed only serve to limit gatherings, smaller and larger ones, to reduce close contacts," Kaić explained.

Božinović also referred to schools and school halls. They allowed offline classes and made sure that different classes don't interfere with each other, and that children don't all come to school at the same time. Since children aren't divided into sports groups as they are in classes, if the school halls are open, there would be more mixing between them, and then the possibility of spreading the virus is increased.

The above decisions will be valid for two weeks, and then the Headquarters will think once again about the further opening up of other facilities if the number of infections continues to fall.

Source: Jutarnji.hr

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Four New Measures: Coffee to Go Allowed, Gyms, Foreign Language Schools, Casinos Open

February 11, 2021 – At today's Government session, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković presented four new measures valid from Monday, February 15, 2021. The four new measures include allowing cafes to serve coffee to go and the opening up of gyms, foreign language schools and casinos.

Asked about whether the epidemiological measures would be relaxed after February 15, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said yesterday that "fellow citizens who have shown a great deal of responsibility and patience should be rewarded." At today's Government session, Plenković announced the changes, warning that there is still no room for excessive relaxation nor the cessation of the responsible behaviour of all citizens.

"We monitored the development of the epidemiological situation in Croatia, and after talks with the Civil Protection Headquarters, epidemiologists, and members of the Government, we made several decisions," said Plenković.

The four new measures include:

  • enabling caterers to sell coffee to go and thus allow them to do business; February's fees are valid for the entire month
  • allowing the opening of gyms and fitness centres while respecting epidemiological measures, which is good for physical activity and people's health
  • enabling children to study in foreign language schools so that in addition to their regular school activities, they can also attend extracurricular activities
  • allowing the opening of bookmakers, slot machine clubs, and casinos, with restrictions on the consumption of beverages

Plenković added that the next analysis of the measures' effect would be on March 1, 2021. They will decide whether there will be new relaxations or a new tightening up of those epidemiological measures, depending on the epidemiological situation.

Plenković also reported on the situation with the spread of the novel coronavirus in Croatia and the declining trend of new infections. Today, Croatia is third country in the European Union in terms of the weekly average number of confirmed cases per million inhabitants. We have the fifth largest two-week drop in the number of deaths.

"At the same time, we're still in the winter months, and a strong wave of cold weather has been announced. The British variant of the virus has also been identified in Croatia. Many European countries are extending or tightening up their measures. After the initial delays in the delivery of vaccines, we have indications that Pfizer and AstraZeneca's delivery dynamics will accelerate, and we can expect larger quantities by the end of March. So far, we've received about 150,000 doses, and we expect more than 600,000 doses by the end of March, which means that we will be able to vaccinate a much larger number of our fellow citizens," said Plenković.

He pointed out that all three vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca – are all one hundred percent effective in preventing death from the virus. They are also effective against the need for respirators and the development of more severe symptoms.

"There are no obstacles which would suggest that people over 65 should not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine,'' said Plenković, adding that they want to vaccinate as many people as possible who are at risk.

Health Minister Vili Beroš reported that the vaccine's 669 side effects had been reported, and they were most commonly just mild reactions.

"The number of new cases is continuing to fall from week to week. We're monitoring the spread of new variants of this virus. Continuing the vaccination process is our tool for success. Today, we mark the World Day of the Sick. Special emphasis is placed on emotional struggles, and as such I'd like to thank our healthcare professionals," Beroš said.

To read more news about coronavirus in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Epidemiologist: At This Rate, Vaccination Goal Won't Be Met Until Autumn

February 9, 2021 – In a Croatian media TV interview, epidemiologist of the Croatian Institute of Public Health Bernard Kaić yesterday said the plan to vaccinate half of the population by the summer will be delayed. He predicted that if Croatia continues vaccination at its current rate, the goal would not be reached until autumn, possibly late autumn

Epidemiologist of the Croatian Institute of Public Health Bernard Kaić, speaking to Croatian media RTL, told them the plan to vaccinate half of the population by the summer will be delayed. The epidemiologist predicted that if Croatia continues vaccination at its current rate, the goal of vaccinating half of the population within the country will not be completed until autumn, possibly late autumn.

"I can't say (by) exactly how much,” he told RTL, regarding how much delay will occur, “because we still don't know how many vaccines we'll get in March. And (how much) after March we (still) have no idea.”

“If this pace continues, it would take four million doses to vaccinate half the population. We won't achieve that until autumn for sure, and it’s late autumn,” the epidemiologist said.

According to an article in Index, the epidemiologist said that, as things currently stand, there will be three vaccines used in Croatia - AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech. They will be used concurrently, with vaccinations from all three available in Croatia at the same time.

When asked which vaccine he would choose to be vaccinated with, the epidemiologist answered that he did not know and that he was glad that he did not have the opportunity to choose. "There was only one offered so I got vaccinated,” said the epidemiologist. “It would be really hard to decide."

When asked why some states have given up vaccinating those over the age of 65 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, the epidemiologist explained that in currently available results from clinical studies the messenger RNA vaccine had proven to be somewhat more effective in preventing mild forms of Coronavirus than the AstraZeneca vaccine. Some of the vaccines work in different ways. However, the epidemiologist ultimately said that it was expected the AstraZeneca vaccine would prove to be effective, it was just that this had not yet been proven statistically.

bernard-kaic-e505fb44671c29c2fdonRTL.jpgRTL screenshot

Later in the interview, the epidemiologist was asked “Due to skepticism towards AstraZeneca, many associations in (Croatia's) border areas plan to take pensioners to Serbia for vaccination. How smart is it to accept such an arrangement?”

The epidemiologist replied; “My only fear is that such organized trips do not turn into corona-trips so that people do not get infected on the way back and forth and do themselves harm. I would wait.”

The three vaccines for which Croatia is currently expecting deliveries are now not the only vaccines available. Speaking in a discussion on the same evening on another Croatian media outlet, HRT, Zlatko Trobonjača, an immunologist from the Rijeka Clinical Hospital, spoke about the Russian vaccine.

"Our country is obviously following the EU and its decisions,” he said. “The EU has entered into talks with Russia. It can be expected that these talks will continue. It is a quality vaccine, it provides high protection.”

"As for the quality of the vaccine, we can see that it is not harmful and it could be used in our country. The EU is oriented towards Western companies. And now, they (the companies) did not stick to the agreement," Trobonjača said, adding that he would be vaccinated with the first vaccine that was made available to him.

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Jutarnji List: Croatian Cafes Open on Monday 15 February (and Gyms too)?

February 2, 2021 – The wait is over! In less than two weeks, Croatian cafes and gyms will open, if infection numbers continue on their current downward trajectory

With the spring season just around the corner, people will soon be able to once again enjoy coffee on the sun-filled daytime terraces of Croatian cafes. If Coronavirus infection numbers continue on their current downward trajectory, Croatian cafes and gyms will open on Monday 15 February. All businesses will still have to operate under strict epidemiological measures.

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Deputy Prime Minister and the Chief of Staff, Davor Božinović, spoke about the forthcoming concessions on Croatian cafes and gyms, but a fuller picture of how the concessions will actually look was discovered unofficially by Croatian daily Jutarnji List. It was published in the evening of Monday 1st February 2021. The good news soon travelled across Croatia. It will come as a great relief to many independent business owners who have not been allowed to operate.

Business owners have been increasingly on edge over recent weeks, with protest openings of Croatian cafes and gyms threatened to take place in defiance of the current ban on operations (indeed, some did). Owners of Croatian cafes were particularly irked by the seeming inconsistencies in current measures – fast food outlets, gas service stations and bakeries were all permitted to sell coffee to go. People took advantage of this and thereafter congregated on the streets outside such businesses to enjoy their drinks. But, Croatian cafes were still not permitted to service people wishing to drink on outside terraces in almost exactly the same manner.

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Monday 15 February has long been announced as the next review date for the imposed Coronavirus measures. But, until now, nobody was certain in which way – if any – measures would be relaxed.

Under unofficial plans, from Monday 15 February Croatian cafes will be able to serve coffee and drinks to be consumed on outside terraces, with strict epidemiological guidelines in place.

Croatian cafes and gyms opening on 15 February will be conditional on a continued downturn in infection numbers and the absence of new Coronavirus strains appearing in Croatia

The re-opening of Croatian cafes and gyms is wholly dependent not only on the continuing downturn in numbers of infected but also on the condition that new strains of Coronavirus - specifically those first detected in the UK and South Africa - do not appear in Croatia between now and then.

"If the indicators are good, if the numbers go down, we will certainly not be reluctant to react,” Deputy Prime Minister Davor Božinović said, regarding the 15 February review, “our aim to strike a balance between everything - with an emphasis on health care - has brought us to a position where Croatia has the least stringent measures in the EU."

Coronavirus infection numbers in some other European territories remain at an alarmingly high rate, although a corresponding relaxation in measures for some regions of Italy was similarly announced over recent days. This is the second time since the start of the pandemic that stricter measures imposed by the Croatian government – and a widespread public observance of these measures and other guidelines - have successfully produced the intended results.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Zagreb Cafes Protest Opening 1st Feb Cancelled, Fines Too Severe

January 31, 2021 – The planned cafes protest in Zagreb and elsewhere, which was due to see 100 facilities open their doors on Monday 1st February in defiance of the current ban on their operations, has been cancelled. Huge fines and the threat of prison are the reason for the climb down. Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric appealed to caterers for patience.

The proposed Zagreb cafes protest organised for Monday 1st February has been cancelled. The protest was due to see some catering facilities and gyms open their doors to the public in defiance of the current nationwide ban on operations in such facilities. Around 100 businesses were said to be joining the Zagreb cafes protest.

"Although it has been rumoured that more than 100 caterers in Zagreb will open their facilities on February 1, mostly cafes, or at least start issuing coffee and drinks outside, despite the work ban, it does not seem this will (now) happen, as many have withdrawn after seeing all the consequences that could befall them if they do, " Franz Letica, president of the Zagreb Caterers' Association, told Hina by telephone after the meeting.

On Friday 29 January, the Association of Caterers in Zagreb announced the opening of at least 100 bars and Croatian cafes would open on Monday. An informal meeting of caterers, many who were due to take part in the cafes protest, took place on the afternoon of Saturday 30 January. It seems that at the meeting, plans for the cafes protest fell apart. Caterers had faced the possible punishment of fines - from 20 thousand kuna to 70 thousand kuna - and up to three years in prison for defying the law and opening during the cafes protest.

Petra Odobašić, the owner of a catering facility from Zagreb who attended Saturday's informal meeting, also confirmed to Hina there would be no mass opening on Monday, but that only a dozen caterers would continue with the cafes protest. This handful of establishments were described as being situated mostly in the Dubrava area of Zagreb. Around 80 caterers attended Saturday's informal meeting, mostly from Zagreb, but some from other areas such as Karlovac.

Appearing on Croatian television on Saturday 30 January, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric appealed to caterers for patience.

"We hope there will be (patience)," he said when asked about the proposed act of defiance, "given that we have explained the epidemiological situation we are currently in. We need to think about the season - spring and summer - this will be the time when we can all reap the fruits of responsibility together."

Friday, 29 January 2021

Hercegovac Begs Cro PM 'Open Borders So I Can Send My Wife To Her Mother'

January 29, 2021 – Lockdown is apparently taking a toll on one Hercegovac. The man from Široki Brijeg wrote to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and begged him to reopen the borders between Croatia and Herzegovina so he could eject his wife from the family home for a month and send her to his mother-in-law's

The message from Hercegovac Ante Zovko (Ante Marinkov) was reposted on the Facebook page Imocki crnjaci where it picked up some 3 thousand likes in less than 6 hours.

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The town, Široki Brijeg, where this particular Hercegovac (a man from Herzegovina) lives is just 35 kilometres from the border with Croatia. Lots of Croatians live in this area, including this Hercegovac, his wife and his child. But not, it would seem, his wife's mother, who apparently lives in Croatia.

AnyConv.com__Panorama-široki07419.jpgŠiroki Brijeg in Herzegovina, around 35 kilometres across the border from Croatia © Anto (talk)

The Hercegovac's reason for wishing to eject his wife and child for a month was to change up the atmosphere for a time. One presumes he was not being entirely serious with his request.

The Hercegovac is not the first man to seemingly reach the end of his tether while restricted to staying in the family home. In April 2020, after just one month of being housebound, a man from a village near Osijek in Slavonia left his wife in the family home and went to live nearby in a tent.

Speaking anonymously at the time, the man's neighbour told the local SiB.hr news portal the couple have been happily married for 30 years. But, it seems the pressure of being around each other so closely during the lockdown was too much even for their strong union.

The neighbour was happy to report that since his friend pitched his tent in the nearby locale, relations between the man and his wife had actually returned to their usual levels of warmth and friendliness. The wife even came regularly to visit her husband in his tent.

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"My neighbour has been in his tent for a few days now,” he told the portal back in April. “He puts up a table and chairs in front. Occasionally our other neighbour comes over to drink some rakija (with him). I visited him too.”

The neighbour said his friend had quit the family home due to boredom more than anything else. Even after being happily married for 30 years, being around each other 24 hours a day was apparently just too much.

Perhaps in this more chivalrous response from the Slavonian man, Hercegovac Ante Marinkov could take some inspiration? After all, it's surely easier if one person departs from his family home in order to change the atmosphere than if two are forced to leave. Ante should find a nice spot in the fields nearby – not too close – and simply pitch up a tent. Problem solved! If he's lucky, his wife might come to visit bringing rakija.

Friday, 29 January 2021

VIDEO: Prohibition-Era Nightclubbing Zagreb, 33 Fined

January 29, 2021 – It has all the ingredients of a movie about Al Capone or Lucky Luciano in 1920s Chicago - illicit, hidden drinking dens, dancing girls, bullets, guns, gangsters and a police raid, only with a neon lighting scheme that remains fashionable strictly in Balkan clubs. Welcome to Prohibition-era nightclubbing Zagreb

It has all the ingredients of a movie about Al Capone (main picture) or Lucky Luciano in 1920s Chicago - illicit, hidden drinking dens, dancing girls, bullets, guns, gangsters and a police raid, only with a neon lighting scheme that remains fashionable strictly in Balkan clubs. Welcome to Prohibition-era nightclubbing Zagreb.

Croatian police have issued a video of a raid they undertook to shut down a Prohibition-era nightclubbing party in Zagreb. Inside the venue, they found 33 persons. None were wearing masks.

One young man at the party was caught with a pistol and bullets. If it weren't for the police's modern helmets with visors and the Balkan-cool neon lighting, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching Eliot Ness and The Untouchables busting an illegal speakeasy. All cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs are supposed to be closed at the moment under measures adopted to counter the spread of Coronavirus.

Screenshot_129.pngThe pistol found by police while conducting a search on a 24-year-old at the club - Youtube screenshot

In the original era of America's Prohibition, under which the production, import, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal, Al Capone ultimately received an 11-year prison sentence for tax evasion and Lucky Luciano was looking at 30 - 50 years until he struck a deal and agreed to be deported to Italy. Thankfully, there are no mafia murders connected to this tale of Prohibition-era nightclubbing in Zagreb.

Depiction of an illicit nightclub - a speakeasy - in Prohibition-era America from the classic 1976 Alan Parker-directed children's movie and musical 'Bugsy Malone'

In addition to the video, the police released a statement about the prohibition-era nightclubbing raid:

"During the operation, a total of 33 people were found, identified and checked in said facility. No coercive measures were used during the actions of the police officers. 33 people were found not wearing protective masks, which is why the police officers issued them three Notices of Misdemeanor and 30 fines were collected for violations of Article 47, paragraph 2, item 9 of the Law on the Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases.

Furthermore, for one of the caught persons, a 24-year-old was searched and a gas pistol was found in his possession, for which he was issued a Mandatory Misdemeanor Order for the offence under Article 27, paragraph 2 of the Law on procurement and possession of weapons by citizens.

Screenshot_139.pngBullets found by the police at the prohibition-era nightclubbing scene in Zagreb

Also, officials of the Directorate of Civil Protection found violations of epidemiological measures contrary to the Decision on necessary epidemiological measures restricting gatherings and introducing other necessary epidemiological measures and recommendations to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 through gatherings. Due to performing catering activities contrary to the decisions of the Civil Protection Headquarters, officials of the State Inspectorate, Tourist Inspection, Zagreb Regional Office found a violation of Article 9A of the Catering Act and issued an oral decision banning the work, and the facility was sealed for at least 30 days. Misdemeanor proceedings will be initiated against the legal and responsible person.

As part of the criminal investigation, the 45-year-old owner of a catering facility was taken to the official premises of the Zagreb Police Administration for a criminal investigation on suspicion of having committed the criminal offence of "Spreading and Transmitting an Infectious Disease" under Article 180. He will be handed over to the custody supervisor after the criminal investigation is completed”

Prohibition in the United States took place in a 13 year period between 1920 and 1933. It is highly unlikely that the bars and cafes of Zagreb will be asked to remain closed for such a length of time. This is not the first instance of Prohibition-era nightclubbing taking place irrespective of epidemiological guidelines in Zagreb. In late November 2020, Croatian media (including Juarnji List) widely reported on police raids that took place at two Zagreb venues, even though measures adopted in the fight against the pandemic were at that time more relaxed.

Monday, 25 January 2021

Božinović: There Will Be No Major Relaxation of Epidemiological Restrictions

ZAGREB, 25 January, 2021 - The national COVID-19 response team is considering the relaxation of the ban on gatherings as of February 1 but there will be no major relaxing of epidemiological restrictions, the team's head, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Monday, ahead of the adoption of a new set of measures.

"There will be no complete lockdown in Croatia as in some other European countries but there won't be any major relaxation of the restrictions either. We need time to see what happens with the new virus strains," Božinović said.

The current restrictions are in force until the end of this week and before they expire, a new set of measures will be made known, with three restrictions regarding commerce, borders and public transportation likely to be extended, while the relaxation of the ban on gatherings is being discussed the most.

"In the current situation, there is not much room for a strategy of major relaxation of the restrictions. The worst thing would be to open something suddenly and then to have to close it down again," he said, noting that statistics on the number of new infections were better and better but that those number were not insignificant.

Future decisions will be impacted by the spread of the new virus strains which have already appeared in Croatia's neigbourhood, by the slowing down of the vaccination process and the fact that we are still in the winter period, he added.

As for plans by cafe and restaurants owners to stage a protest against anti-epidemic measures, Božinović said that protests were a democratic instrument but that he did not know against whom and what they would protest as restrictions had not been introduced with the intention of making someone's life harder.

"We all hope that as the number of new infections declines and vaccination proceeds some kind of normal life will be restored but it is clear that it won't happen tomorrow," he said.

Markotić: We can't be sure mutated viruses are not already in Croatia

The head of Zagreb's Dr Fran Mihaljević hospital for infectious diseases, Alemka Markotić, said that the situation regarding virus mutation was being seriously followed and that one could not be absolutely sure that the mutated viruses had not already appeared in Croatia.

"There are for the time being no hotspots with an extreme increase in the number of new infections, which is an indirect indicator that the mutated virus, even if it has arrived in Croatia, is not replicating significantly. There will be more mutations in the future but they need not necessarily be bad for humans. Mutations more often harm the virus than they increase its contagiousness. The situation will be followed," said Markotić, noting that existing PCR tests can detect the British virus strain.

Capak: Croatia will not engage in bilateral talks with vaccine producers

Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) head Krunoslav Capak said that Croatia was registering a 20% decrease in the number of new infections in the last seven days compared to the week before.

A total of 69,984 persons have been vaccinated and 11,907 have been revaccinated, he said.

For those who need a second shot, vaccination will be postponed for a week due to lack of the vaccine but that will not affect the quality of vaccination or immunity as the second shot can be received up to 42 days after the first one, he said.

He noted that Croatia did not plan to hold bilateral talks with vaccine producers as a common approach had been agreed at EU level but stressed that in the next four weeks Croatia would obtain 14 fewer boxes of the vaccine or 13,650 fewer doses.

Moderna should deliver 4,800 doses on Sunday, and in early February 10,800 doses should arrive for which there is no information that they could be delayed, Capak said.

"AstraZeneca has been instructed by the European Commission today to respect the deadlines and the agreed quantities better, so we hope that after today's videoconference we will receive good news. The first delivery should be in mid-February, of 44,000 doses," he said.

"We are thinking about what to do if small deliveries continue but we believe that larger quantities will arrive. Much of the effort is now directed at making the pharmaceutical industry change the drastic reduction in vaccine deliveries for all EU countries," he said.

So far 284 suspected side-effects have been reported for the Pfizer vaccine, including 16 allergic reactions requiring administration of drugs and two requiring administration of adrenaline.

There have been 10 reports of side-effects for the Moderna vaccine, and the side-effects have all been mild.

The current 14-day incidence in Croatia is 216 new infections per 100,000 people. It is the highest in Sisak-Moslavina County, with 385.6 cases and the lowest in Istria, with 92.9 new infections per 100,000 people.

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