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.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Government Meets Civil Protection Headquarters, Are Measure Relaxations Coming?

January the 24th, 2021 - The Croatian Government and the National Civil Protection Headquarters, as well as Croatian epidemiologists, are set to meet today to discuss what is to come after the 1st of February when the country's anti-epidemic measures are set to be reviewed. Is the relaxation of the current measures on the cards?

Many have their fingers crossed that some concessions when it comes to the currently very restrictive measures will be made. The measures, while harsh, have yielded success, with Croatia's new daily cases of coronavirus infection tumbling on an impressive downward trajectory for weeks now. While some government ministers, including the Prime Minister, have voiced their desire for a relaxation, some in the profession have been firm in their answer to that - no. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, today, members of the Croatian National Civil Protection Headquarters and government ministers will meet to discuss possible easing of the current epidemiological measures, as was confirmed Interior Minister and Civil Protection Staff Chief Davor Bozinovic at a government session held this week.

At the end of the month, more precisely, on the 31st of January, the current Decision on epidemiological measures restricting gatherings, rules for crossing the Croatian border for various categories of passenger and the work of cafes, restaurants and the like ceases to be valid. In order to see Croatia continue on its current path of success in controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus, new measures and rules will need to be introduced to replace those now expiring ones.

Whether or not Croatia's good epidemiological picture will result in any of them finally being relaxed to allow for a little more normality is yet to be seen, but it is certain that much more will be known today, and what becomes known will likely be followed with just as many questions, as has been the case to date.

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Sunday, 24 January 2021

Will Government Allow Croatian Cafe Owners to Serve Coffee to Go?

January the 24th, 2021 - Will Croatian cafe owners finally be permitted to serve coffee to go as the country's epidemiological measures are reviewed on February the 1st? 

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, in the coming days, the state will present the new epidemiological measures for the economy after February the 1st in detail, during which consultations will be held with all those whose work has been suspended, such as Croatian faces, according to Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic.

"Certainly, as has been the case previous times, there will be consultations with all those who are involved. Of course, there is a special emphasis being placed on those in the hospitality and catering industry because of their number and because these measures have a significant impact on them,'' said the Minister.

He added that no measure will be adopted without consultations with all those whose work has been suspended.

When asked by journalists about the announcement of the National Association of Caterers, which, citing sources close to the Civil Protection Headquarters, said that hotels would be opened first, then restaurants would be next, opening their doors from early March, with Croatian cafes being allowed to open their doors few weeks later, Aladrovic said that in early February, a new set of measures would be announced.

Croatian cafe owners and others in the hospitality and catering sector are asking to be given the opportunity to sell coffee to go about which the minister said that there is definitely room for conversation and agreement, and finally some concessions.

For the increasingly frequent remarks that the payment of job support subsidies for November and December have arrived late, Aladrovic said that he admitted that there were delays for November, but that there were no more complaints and that the CES paid out a total of around 400 million kuna.

Almost 300 million kuna has been paid out for the month of December 2020 so far, and Aladrovic doesn't expect any further technical problems in that particular regard.

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Saturday, 23 January 2021

Croatian Border Rules: Lack of Clarity Attracts Questions, MUP Explains

January the 23rd, 2021 - The Croatian border rules are frequently changing as a result of the epidemiological picture both in Croatia and outside of it, and there have been many allegations from travellers that MUP haven't always been very clear. This results in a lot of mail for the border police, who have now released an explanation for at least one point.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, due to the increased number of inquiries, the Dubrovnik-Neretva Police Department has been forced to additionally explain the conditions for crossing the Croatian border in regard to the rule in which Croatian citizens can travel to third countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro) and stay there for a maximum of twelve hours and return home to Croatia without needing to present a negative PCR test and go into self-isolation.

“The exception provided by the Decision on Amendments to the Decision on Temporary Prohibition and Restriction of Crossing the Border Crossings of the Republic of Croatia, which has remained in force since the 14th of January this year, applies to persons travelling for urgent personal or family reasons, business reasons or other economic interests in the Republic of Croatia or those travelling for the same reasons to third countries where they will not stay longer than twelve hours.

When it comes to the Croatian border rules, it is of course impossible to predict all of the necessary personal or business reasons and just list them exhaustively, but an exception when it comes to the current Croatian border rules implies only unforeseen, unplanned, unexpected or immediate events (for example the death of a family member and the like, or force majeure that could not be influenced at all (such as a natural disaster, damage to property, etc.) and which certainly require the physical presence of the person in question.

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Saturday, 23 January 2021

PM Plenkovic Wants Less Measures, Headquarters Not in Agreement

January the 23rd, 2021 - PM Plenkovic has made it clear on several occasions that he is in favour of gradually loosing Croatia's currently fairly strict epidemiological measures up again after the current ones expire at the end of this month, but the profession isn't in agreement with him.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, PM Plenkovic and government ministers from various economic departments want to start gradually opening Croatia up again after the existing restrictive measures expire on January the 31st, since the trends in regard to new coronavirus infection cases over recent weeks have been more than good, but the Civil Protection Headquarters and Croatia's epidemiologists are very careful about the new strains of the virus which have emerged. They are not yet ready to open Croatia's doors yet again and are pushing for the existing measures to be extended for another month to two.

That's why today's meeting will be absolutely crucial, during which PM Plenkovic and his ministers will talk to members of the Civil Protection Staff and epidemiologists, and at which it will be decided in which direction the current measures will be relaxed. Interlocutors from the Croatian Government have revealed to Jutarnji list that the gradual easing of the measures should go in the direction of all students going to school, allowing recreational sports, as well as the opening of fitness centres, gyms and sports centres with strict measures implied. Epidemiologists will talk to representatives of the catering and hospitality sector who will discuss the possibility of allowing the opening of terraces for restaurants and cafes.

If, on the other hand, members of the Civil Protection Headquarters are asked about the possibility of easing restrictive measures on February the 1st, they say that this will only be discussed, but that they will take the position that greater concessions shouldn't be made for as long as the risk of a mutated form of the virus remains present. The mutated virus has emerged elsewhere in Europe, primarily in the UK, which is why many countries are prolonging or even tightening their measures.

Although the Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs says that he expects and believes that all schools will open on February the 1st, ie that classes will be attended live, the members of the Civil Protection Staff advocate the thesis that we should be patient for another month or two when Croatia will enter the "safe zone". .

In the event that even after February the 1st, children in the upper grades of primary and secondary school continue to attend classes online, according to the Headquarters, they would be allowed to go to sport-related extracurricular activities.

The interlocutors from the economic part of the Government also confirm that they are uncompromising in Civil Protection Headquarters regarding the gradual easing of the measures. Although they are constantly talking to the them about about it, they are, as they say, quite firm in their beliefs that it shouldn't yet happen.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2021

45 People With Fake PCR Tests Detained At Croatian Border In One Weekend

January 19, 2021 – 45 people tried to enter Croatia with fake PCR tests this weekend alone. They were caught by Croatian police, detained at the border and reported to the State's Attorney office. If found guilty, each faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison

Some 45 people tried to enter Croatia through the borders of one county with fake PCR tests this past weekend.

Travel from Bosnia and Herzegovina into Croatia currently requires the production of a negative PCR test or a doctor's certificate proving you have successfully passed through a COVID-19 infection in recent months.

Since the ban on entering Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina without a negative PCR test was introduced, fake PCR tests are increasingly being forged. Border police and customs officers at crossings in Brod-Posavina County have met many people trying to cross the border with fake PCR tests. But, this weekend a new record number of forged tests were found on the county's border crossings.

According to a statement from the Brod-Posavina Police Department, as many as 45 attempts to enter the country with fake PCR tests were discovered on Saturday and Sunday.


"At the Stara Gradiška border crossing, police officers determined that 43 persons, mostly citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented fake PCR tests issued in BiH at the border control. At the Slavonski Brod border crossing, two people were registered who gave forged tests," the Brod-Posavina police reported.

Police officers file criminal charges against all those suspected of committing the criminal offence of forgery of a document with the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Slavonski Brod. If found guilty, such persons face up to three years in prison.

The overall number of people detained on Croatia's border with fake PCR tests this weekend could actually be higher - the figures of 45 persons detained with fake PCR tests were released by the police of just one county in Croatia - Brod-Posavina County. A further eight Croatian counties exist along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Each has border crossings between the two countries.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Civil Protection Headquarters: More Changes at Croatian Borders, Measures in Force Until January 31

January 15, 2020 – At today's press conference of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Interior Minister Davor Božinović explained the changes at Croatian borders and commented if there would be any easing of measures from February 1, 2021.

The National Civil Protection Headquarters held a press conference on the current epidemiological situation in the country.

In the last 24 hours, 715 new cases of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 4653. Among them, 1855 patients are in hospital, of which 160 are on respirators. Thirty-three people died. There are currently 18,048 people in self-isolation.

Krunoslav Capak, Director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, explained the situation with testing and the incidence rate.

"5335 people were tested. A week ago, we had 1098 positive cases. The total number in the first five days of this week is 3819, 23 percent less than the first five days of last week. The incidence is below 300 – 288.8 in the last 14 days. The lowest incidence is in Dubrovnik and the highest in Međimurje. Croatia ranks 7th in the EU in terms of seven-day incidence," Capak said. The share of positive cases in those tested is 16.4 percent.

Decisions about border crossings

Davor Božinović clarified the decision on the temporary ban on restricting crossing Croatian border crossings.

"Croatian citizens can stay in neighboring third countries for up to 12 hours in case of urgent and necessary reasons. These are rare situations when there is no other choice for people. For example, funerals, absence of public transport, people in transit, students, going to the doctor, purchasing medicines, etc.," said Božinović.

He added that the decision on passengers coming from the area on the Croatian Institute of Public Health's special list applies to everyone – to their citizens and citizens of all countries coming from those countries. These are passengers from the UK and South Africa. It is valid that they can enter Croatia only with a negative coronavirus test and be quarantined for 14 days. The quarantine can be shortened to 7 days in case of another negative test.

Božinović and Capak on easing measures

As Index found out earlier, the easing of epidemiological measures is possible as early as February 1, but provided that the number of newly infected people continues to fall, i.e., the share of new cases in the total number of daily tests continues to fall. The first in line for easing the measures would be gyms and terraces of cafes and restaurants. Also, there is almost no chance that restaurants and cafes' closed spaces will open from February 1st.

At a press conference today, journalists asked Božinović if there would be any easing of measures from February 1.

"The fact is that only this week, we decided to extend the measures, which last until January 31, 2021. We will continue to work as before: daily monitor the Republic of Croatia's epidemiological situation and the countries around Croatia, EU countries. It is not in our interest to defend anything other than what is estimated to be due to the virus's spread. In that sense, we will take all factors into account a few days before this decision's expiration. This is wintertime. Everything is being done to achieve an effective way to fight the epidemic - ventilation, masks, keeping distance, etc. We are constantly thinking about measures, and we will continue to do so, but today it is not realistic to announce something, and we will not do it. We have a little more than two weeks to monitor the situation. No one in this epidemic is an island," said Božinović.

Božinoć added that when adopting measures, they must also consider the winter weather so as not to overload the health care system. Asked whether these measures would be in force until the spring, Božinović said:

"I don't know why you came to that conclusion. I just said that we would have meetings with other departments, ministers in the Government a few days before the expiration of this decision."

They monitor all important parameters every day and will make a decision based on them. It is too early to announce anything, they said.

"It is evident to us that these results in reducing the number of newly infected consequences are fewer contacts, fewer gatherings indoors, fewer private gatherings, and celebrations. It is the foundation of the fight against coronavirus, especially in winter conditions. This is easier to implement in some situations and more difficult in some others. There are activities for which this is not a particular problem, and for some, it is. We are sorry for all who suffer in such a situation. We can not let the health system not respond to people's needs when it comes to Covid and other diseases."

Asked whether individual sports would be allowed, Krunoslav Capak replied: "We are analyzing the situation. We cannot announce the easing of measures. Some sports federations have sent inquiries and letters. We are responding to them and communicating with the Ministry of Sports."

Krunoslav Capak said that there had been no case of influenza infection in Croatia. Alemka Markotić pointed out that no new strain of coronavirus had been recorded in Croatia, which had been noticed in Great Britain, Ireland, and South Africa.

Sources: Index, Jutarnji list

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Business Owners Want Croatian Cafes, Restaurants Open from February 1st

January the 12th, 2021 - Croatian cafes, restaurants and other such facilities, as well as gyms and fitness/sports centres have been closed for a while now, and many in the business world are growing concerned as to what the plans are as Croatia’s epidemiological picture continues to improve.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, there is still a lot of uncertainty as to whether catering and hospitality facilities, gyms and sports clubs will start opening up and operating again on February the 1st, but Hrvoje Bujas, president of the Voice of Entrepreneurs association, is calling for just such a scenario, writes Slobodna Dalmacija.

The existing measures that put the keys in the locks for a good part of business owners, particularly those who own Croatian cafes and restaurants, have been extended until January the 31st. There is speculation on the sidelines that this situation could remain in force until March the 1st, possibly even dragging out until April. This could happen primarily to improve the epidemiological situation across the country in order to welcome 2021’s tourist season on which many rely.

Several Split-based catering and hospitality business owners have confirmed to us that, according to their plans and information, they don’t believe that they will start working for at least another thirty to fifty days.

It is true that March and April, during these unpredictable circumstances, don’t make sense to discuss excessively, but Croatian cafe and restaurant owners, among others whose facilities are closed, would still like to know at least the outline plans of the National Civil Protection Headquarters and the Government. Their very survival depends on it.

''What we propose, that is, what we demand from the Government, ie the Headquarters, is that if such positive trends continue, ie with the reduction of the number of infected, hospitalised and dead people, is to start gradually opening up catering facilities, gyms, fitness centres and the like from the first day of February. Of course, this would go hand in hand with respecting all the prescribed epidemiological measures on maintaining social distancing and the necessary disinfection procedures,’’ Bujas confirmed.

He says that their association has 15 thousand members, of which 35 percent are those who have jobs in the hospitality industry, so at the moment they are doing little and nothing.

‘’It’s clear to us that the next two weeks are crucial again. However, as vaccination has started, and a large number of people have already overcome the coronavirus, Croatian cafe and restaurant owners, as well as other business owners, are asking the ruling party to give them some opportunities to do business again. It’s also clear to us that not everything will go well with the opening in the business plan, in fact. It takes some time to get work started, and this is especially important when it comes to preparation for the tourist season. It takes time for business to turn over, so doing business in February is very important to us.

‘’There have already been dismissals, and there will certainly be more of them, we currently have 160 thousand unemployed people, we hope that number will not exceed 200 thousand. But it seems to us that nothing can be ruled out. The situation is really difficult, help is arriving late, only one quarter of those who applied and were accepted actually received grants for November, and only a few of our members got theirs for the month of December.

We also believe that now is the time for a 13 percent VAT reduction for everyone in the tourism sector, which should, for example, include travel agencies that have recorded a drop in traffic of as much as 80 percent, many are closed, and those trying to survive are doing very poorly’’ Bujas warned.

‘’We also touched on the double standards when it comes to Croatian business owners helping in Banovina, where they’ve been tirelessly cooking and giving out meals for the earthquake victims for days now. There are currently about 150 chefs and workers of other catering profiles in the quake-affected area, who are engaged in delivering thousands of hot meals a day. About a hundred of them are also engaged in restaurants, from where up to 5,000 meals are delivered to the victims every day.

‘’They’re doing all this for free, with their own money, their own employees, their own savings and they’re not complaining. But the key word is that they’re working. Unfortunately, the same kind of work in controlled conditions is not allowed for these people,’’ concluded Hrvoje Bujas.

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Sunday, 10 January 2021

Croatian MPs Spend Less Due to Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

ZAGREB, 10 January, 2021 - Croatian lawmakers spent less than usual in the second half of 2020, mostly due to travel restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Between 22 July, when the 10th parliament was formed, and 18 December, when parliament concluded its last year's session, MPs spent HRK 2.4 million, excluding their monthly salaries. They spent most of the money on the use of their own cars for official purposes (HRK 1.1 million) and apartment rental (HRK 709,000), a report on expenses published on parliament's website shows.

As a result of coronavirus-related movement restrictions, only HRK 11,353 was spent on air fare, HRK 105,000 went towards hotel expenses and HRK 825 towards daily allowances.

As expected, the highest expenses were incurred by MPs who live farthest from Zagreb - HDZ lawmakers Nevenko Barbaric (HRK 49,000) and Radoje Vidovic (HRK 45,000) who travel to Zagreb from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, and SDP lawmakers Matko Kuzmanic (HRK 44,000) and Branko Grcic (HRK 43,000) who live in Split.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

What Kind of Life Awaits Croatian Anti-Vaxxers Who Refuse Vaccination?

December 29, 2020 – The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Croatia has been met with much relief by many people. But, not everyone is happy. Conspiracy theorists - those who favour disreputable sources and 'whispers on the wind' to real science - are reticent, some even angry. So, what kind of life awaits Croatian anti-vaxxers who refuse to take the vaccine?

The people who inhabit the lands now known as Croatia have a long history of being pushed around. For this, they cannot be blamed. Greatly outnumbered by the occupying armies of some of the most powerful empires of all time - the Romans, Venetians, Austro-Hungarians and Ottomans - their rebellions against such overlords have been relatively small in number. Their default setting has been to visit the kafana at the end of the day and moan, grumble, gossip - perhaps even plot - against those who make their lives disagreeable.

Croatia was finally freed of its last imposing masters over two decades ago. But, true to form, the grumbling in the kafanas has continued. Except, now that the kafanas are all closed in response to Coronavirus, the moaning has moved almost exclusively to the internet. And, it has reached a shrieking pitch.

Kafana_znak_pitanja_-_Bašta_kafane.JPGThe tables of the kafana lie empty because of Corona - the traditional moaning that inhabits them has moved online © Zavod za zaštitu spomenika kulture grada Beograda

The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Croatia has been met with much relief by many Croatians. The news of the first vaccinated citizen, followed by the first vaccinated healthcare workers, was also well received. You can tell this from the overwhelmingly large amount of 'likes' such news generates when posted to social media. These warm welcomers of good news in Croatia could be best described as the silent majority. And, in the same way most Croatians lay subdued for lifetimes under bullying empires, this silent, sensible majority is drowned out by the deafening vitriol of the unhinged within the comments sections underneath.

These arch-moaners appear in the comments on most issues, railing against the increasingly modern ways of the world. On the issue of Coronavirus and the incoming vaccines, it is the Croatian anti-vaxxers who are angrily dominating the discourse.

It appears near pointless to debate with them. They are not ones for science, facts nor reasonable debate. Not for them are the reports of scientific journals, the BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, or The Washington Post. Instead, they cite the most spurious of sources – a website nobody else has heard of, a document written by a friendless doctor from the Texas farming community who has a curiously photoshopped profile picture, a Youtube video made for the same price as a hamburger and narrated by a 17-year-old from the outside toilet. There's no point telling them that the vaccines coming onto the market were actually designed back on January 13, just two days after the Coronavirus genetic sequence had been made public and that it has taken until now to produce them, due to stringent testing on their safety. No. Because for Croatian anti-vaxxers, whispers on the wind, the horoscopes, crystal ball of the fortune-teller and the inescapable stare of Braco are just as reliable - if they're telling you what you want to believe. For whichever lunatic theory you want to adopt, you can look online and you'll be sure to find some crackpot to back it up. The internet is the great leveller for Croatian anti-vaxxers as well as everywhere else - a place where deposed Nigerian royalty who want to put money in your bank account have just as much credence as an 80-year-old media title with a blemishless reputation.


Of course, while life is too short to even debate with anti-vaxxers in Croatia or anywhere else, that's not to say they are undeserving of sympathy. In our recent interview with a doctor working on the Coronavirus frontline in a Croatian hospital, they generously raised an interesting defence of the tin-foil hat brigade - “It's not always the content of the conspiracy theory that appeals to these people as much as it is their inability to accept facts – the truth – because they have little faith in the authorities that are telling them.”

Finding fault in authorities is far from unique to Croatia. Yes, there is a certain amount of kafana moaning and grumbling all over the world, and often for good reason. Politicians are more than aware of this. And, in an era of widespread voter apathy and low voter turnout, where yet another silent majority has the potential so easily to change the names of those who govern, this is exactly why politicians will abstain from making the Coronavirus vaccines mandatory. With things as they currently stand, it is near inconceivable that Coronavirus vaccines will be made compulsory in Croatia or in any other western democracy. Good news for Croatian anti-vaxxers? Well, not quite, because it is highly likely that the private sector will be among the greatest of persuaders for vaccination. It is not unthinkable that we are about to enter a wholly new two-tiered society – the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. And signs of what that life might look like for Croatian anti-vaxxers are not good. They are not good at all.


“Vaccination could become one of the measures that would make it possible to come to events,” Stefan Breitenmoser, general manager of the Professional Association of Swiss Organizers of Concerts, Events and Festivals, told Sonntags Blick in the past week. In Switzerland, vaccination began on Wednesday and it is free. It is not only the entertainment events industry that is considering the measure - the Swiss Football League similarly said it is giving it serious consideration. Professional sports and the events industry have lost billions during the pandemic. The 2021 Olympics hangs on a knife-edge in regards to accepting audiences into its stadiums – it has already been delayed by a year. It is highly conceivable that access to all large events in future will be dependent on proof of vaccination.

1280px-New_national_stadium_tokyo_1.jpgThe National Stadium in Japan was due to host some of the key events of the 2020 Summer Olympics. The whole event has been delayed until summer 2021, in response to the pandemic © Arne Müseler

In an interview on N1 television in Croatia over recent days, epidemiologist Branko Kolarić - a member of the Scientific Council of the Government of the Republic of Croatia - echoed similar thinking. He stated that a list of the vaccinated will be carefully maintained, most likely through some kind of e-documents, and although vaccination will not be mandatory, vaccination will bring some benefits - such as air travel, group gatherings and attendance of concerts and festivals. You are surely not going to see police or soldiers checking your vaccination status at the entry to a dance music festival in Dalmatia. But, it is highly likely that event organisers will insist on proof of vaccination before granting entry. Even if they don't wish to, it is more than conceivable that they would not be granted the necessary licenses nor insurance without assuming such a position.

Another industry that has lost billions in the pandemic is the travel and tourism sector. Little surprise then to have found budget airline Ryanair launching a new campaign of 'Jab and go' over the last few days. The suggestion is crystal clear – get vaccinated, you can come on our planes, we'll allow you to travel. Ryanair will certainly not be the last airline to assume responsibility for vetting passengers' vaccination status. Croatian anti-vaxxers had better be really happy to be here, because international borders may well be permanently closed for them while they remain unvaccinated.


So, a life with no spectating at big sports events, no more large concerts or music festivals and no more international travel is what seems to be just around the corner for Croatian anti-vaxxers. Sounds harsh, unpleasant. But what if it extends to libraries, schools or even hospitals? We don't yet know anything concrete about the lower tier of existence Croatian anti-vaxxers may choose to dwell in. But, it's not where I want to live. Perhaps they'll even be forced to drink exclusively in their own anti-vaxxer kafanas? For sure they'll be easy to identify – they'll be the ones from which the loudest moans are coming.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Total Croatia News

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