Tuesday, 14 June 2022

EU Extends Covid Certificate Regulations for Next 12 Months

June 14th, 2022 - The EU extends COVID certificate regulations, which are intended to facilitate the free movement of people during the pandemic, until June 30th, 2023. Using a QR code, the certificate can be used to prove whether a person has been vaccinated against, tested negative for, or has recovered from COVID-19.

The European Parliament and European governments agreed Monday night that the COVID certification rules will remain in place for the next 12 months because the coronavirus disease pandemic is still ongoing, reports Večernji List.

Representatives of the European Parliament and EU governments have agreed to extend the regulation until June 30, 2023, the French presidency of the EU Council said, adding that the regulation could be revoked before that deadline if the health situation allows.

The certificates are intended to facilitate the free movement of people during a pandemic. Using a QR code, the certificate can be used to prove whether a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus, tested negative for coronavirus, or has recovered from COVID-19.

The digital version can be saved to a mobile device. In February, the European Commission proposed extending the covid certification regulation.

"The virus that causes covid-19 is still prevalent in Europe and at this stage, it is not possible to determine the impact of the possible spread of the infection in the second half of 2022 or the emergence of new variants.", the European Commission said in a statement.

The extension of the regulation allows passengers to continue to use their covid certificate if the Member States maintain certain public health measures.

When it comes to yesterday's coronavirus cases in Croatia, in the last 24 hours there were 19 new cases of the infection with coronavirus, and currently, there are 1,655 active cases in the country, Croatia's COVID-19 crisis management team reported.

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

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.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Parliament: Heated Debate Over COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 10 Feb 2022 - A formal discussion in the Croatian parliament on Thursday on the Bridge party's motion for a referendum on COVID certificates was preceded by a heated debate on the counting of signatures and the purpose of COVID measures.

Bridge MP Miro Bulj wondered why the ruling majority did not want to determine a deadline for the referendum. "Why haven't they set a deadline? In whose interest is it to block our initiative?" he asked.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin claimed that since the outbreak of the pandemic this government has been wandering, and that different rules apply to different people.

That has led to the situation that Croatia has the highest COVID death rate and the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and its actions have led to this referendum, he said.

Grbin recalled that the last referendum motion too had a lot of unclear situations and appealed that signatures should not be counted by the government but by the State Electoral Commission (DIP) and that a deadline should be fixed for that. 

Marijan Pavliček (Sovereignists) said that the introduction of COVID certificates was ridiculous because they have not produced any results and called on the ruling majority to accept the will of the people and call the referendum as soon as possible.

Dalija Oreškoivć (Centre) said that the HDZ's 'engineering' has shown that it does not respect the state, institutions, parties, or citizens.

HDZ whip Branko Bačić dismissed the criticisms and said that the Sabor decides on the technical aspects and the proposal by its committee that the government should check the signatures and that representatives of the referendum initiative should participate in checking the signatures.

The referendum calls for the abolishment of COVID certificates, even though they exist in other EU member states, and abolishing them would mean to indirectly and directly shut Croatia's borders and would contribute to the spreading of the virus in society, said Bačić.


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.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

MPs Divided on COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Ahead of a parliamentary debate on a government report on the effects of epidemiological measures taken to fight coronavirus between 1 September and the end of December 2021, the issue of COVID certificates divided the parliamentary majority and opposition deputies.

Opposition deputies stressed that the introduction of those certificates was the worst decision in the two years of the pandemic and that they should be abolished while the ruling HDZ insisted the certificates had to be kept.

Abolishing the certificates would leave us within our borders, and we want to be European citizens and travel, said HDZ MP Maja Grba Bujević.

Let us abolish the certificates, a discriminatory measure that we cannot afford anyway, and that has proven ineffective and costs the economy too much. Money for testing could be used in a much better way, said Bridge MP Marija Selak Raspudić.

Marijan Pavliček of the Croatian Sovereignists said that a number of contradictory and futile decisions had been made in the past two years, with the one on the introduction of certificates being the worst.

Pavliček as well as Stephen Nikola Bartulica (Homeland Movement) criticized plans to test school children.

"By introducing testing you are putting pressure on children and parents, the more so as children get infected less and have milder symptoms," Pavliček said.

SDP: We need clear leadership, clear measures

Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Peđa Grbin expressed hope the Omicron variant was the light at the end of the tunnel.

Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we need clear leadership and clear measures so that we do not make a mistake on the path on which we have often wondered, he said.

Ivana Kekin of the Green-Left Bloc said that since the end of October Croatia had lost more than 5,000 people to COVID, describing that as tragic.

We are ninth in the world in terms of the number of COVID fatalities, we have the highest death rate when it comes to deaths caused by the Omicron variant, in January we lost 1,800 people and 80% of them were not vaccinated, she said, wondering who would assume responsibility - the COVID-19 response team, the health minister or the prime minister.

Answering to opposition criticisms, HDZ MP Grba Bujević said wise and well-thought-out measures were taken.

One should not just look at the figures but at a number of other elements as well. The government and the state invested a lot of effort to procure the vaccine, which is free, the health system did not collapse even though some said it would, and free testing is available, she said.

For more, check out our politics section.

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.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Epidemiologist Bernard Kaic: Covid Passes Have Less and Less Meaning

January the 31st, 2022 - Croatian epidemiologist Bernard Kaic has stated that covid passes, often called covid certificates or even passports, are having less and less meaning or sense as time goes on and the epidemiological situation unfolds. It appears that the Omicron variant is changing many parameters.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, epidemiologist Bernard Kaic was a recent guest of Dnevnik Nova TV and commented on the current epidemiological situation across Croatia, including covid confirmations, the Omicron variant and vaccination.

"The fact is that covid passes make less and less sense as time goes on with the emergence and spread of the Omicron variant," epidemiologist Bernard Kaic said. Now, at the time of the spread of the new Omicron variant, those who aren't yet vaccinated are more likely to be contagious than the vaccinated are, according to a CNIPH study. The rules have already started to change because of this new strain. Soon, there will probably be more changes regarding the use of covid passes. There will be a lot of changes,'' he added rather vaguely.

Something is constantly changing in this pandemic, it's difficult to keep up with all of the latest changes. All of these changes are fertile ground for conspiracy theories and the acquisition of mistrust. Whoever wants to interpret the changes as a reason for a lack of trust or as some conspiracy theory - can, of course. The fact is that things are changing because the situation is changing, and it's doing so from week to week,'' he explained.

He added that worries that people are still not getting vaccinated enough and believes that those who have not done so yet should make sure they do as soon as possible.

"We still have a large number of elderly people who haven't yet been vaccinated. Omicron rarely causes severe clinical pictures, but with such a wide circulation, we do still have a large number of hospitalised people, and sadly people are still dying,'' he said.

Some people also have doubts and have some odd beliefs when it comes to booster doses as well, but Kaic has a message for them: "If they don't believe what the profession says, let them read some scientific articles."

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, 30 December 2021

Despite Milanovic's Comments, Croatian Covid Certificates Checked at Pantovcak

December the 30th, 2021 - President Zoran Milanovic has never been shy in expressing his opinion and is very well known for speaking his mind. This has been the case when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic and the introduction of digital Croatian covid certificates as well. It seems now, however, that those digital Croatian covid certificates that Milanovic had been so vocal about until recently, are being checked for validity at Pantovcak.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, it should be noted that, as hinted at above, President Zoran Milanovic has repeatedly warned that his Office will not require anyone to present a valid digital Croatian covid certificate when enteting, which is a move made by the National Civil Protection Directorate that the Croatian President considers to be stupid. The reality now looks decidedly different.

According to Novi list, Nikola Jelic, a spokesman for the Office of the President, confirmed that the epidemiological measure adopted by the National Civil Protection Directorate was applied in Pantovcak despite opposition from some officials, including Milanovic himself, at least if we look at what he has said about the measure.

“Members of the Honorary Protection Battalion at the entrance to the Office of the President are requesting valid digital Croatian covid certificates from each of our employees, as well as from visitors. As for the employees in the Office of the President, this isn't a problem for us because 95 percent of them have been fully vaccinated, which puts us well above the national level,'' Jelic assured.

When asked how it was that President Zoran Milanovic's announcements that he would not "harass people" about digital Croatian covid certificates failed to come to fruition, Jelic said that the president never said that he intended to break the law.

"He spoke exclusively about inspectors, and as I've said, digital Croatian covid certificates are regularly checked in various places in this country, so there is no real need for inspectors to come at all, and of course, that means there's no need for them to come and punish the head of the Office, either,'' concluded spokesman Jelic.

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

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

COVID Certificates Referendum Won't Pass, Says Mato Palić

December 21, 2021 - Constitutional expert Mato Palić believes that both issues that Most Party put to the COVID certificates referendum are unconstitutional, and as such will not pass.

Most party members said on Sunday that they had collected enough signatures for the referendum question, which touches on COVID certificates, and counting is now underway, reports Net.hr.

After all the signatures are counted, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia must decide whether the issue in the COVID certificates referendum is in accordance with the constitution, and constitutional expert Mato Palić told N1 television that there is nothing disputable in the COVID certificates.

"Judging by the previous practice of the Constitutional Court and the positions they have taken regarding the decisions of the Civil Protection Headquarters. There is very little chance, almost no chance, for them to make a Copernican turn, that is, to approach the restrictions of rights and freedoms in a different way. Especially taking into account the fact that we had stronger restrictions on rights and freedoms when we had a much better epidemiological picture'', Palic said.

"It is not realistic for them to completely change their position and make a decision that these existing restrictions are constitutionally disputable," he added.

So far, the Constitutional Court is acting correctly, claims Palić.

"The Constitutional Court interprets constitutional norms correctly. I don't think that the Constitutional Court has done anything so far, that is, it has made a decision that is disputable from the aspect of the correct interpretation of constitutional norms", he said and also touched on the Most initiative.

"Politicians always speak from the position of some kind of rhetoric in public space in a way that goes to their mill. What is undeniable is the fact that the Constitutional Court did not question the acts passed by the Headquarters, except for the part of the decision related to the ban on work on Sundays. As for the referendum itself, I think that both issues are unconstitutional, and the first one refers to the amendment of Article 17 and the second one refers to the amendments to the Law on Protection of the Population on Infectious Diseases ", he explained.

For more on COVID-19, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Constitutional Court to Discuss COVID Certificates on Tuesday

ZAGREB, 20 Dec 2021 - Croatia's Constitutional Court will on Tuesday consider the constitutionality of the digital COVID passes for access to hospitals and the mandatory vaccination against coronavirus in healthcare and social welfare institutions.

The topic of COVID certificates in the whole public sector will not be on the agenda, as the government has not yet notified the Court about its position on the matter, the Constitutional Court said on Monday, adding that it had sent a reminder to the government concerning that topic.

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

Monday, 20 December 2021

Grmoja: Bridge Has Collected Enough Signatures for its Anti-COVID Referendum Petition

ZAGREB, 20 Dec 2021 - Nikola Grmoja of the Bridge party said on Sunday they had collected a sufficient number of signatures for their referendum petitions for the transfer of the powers of the national COVID-19 crisis management team to the parliament and the abolishment of COVID certificates.

This opposition party started collecting signatures on 4  December at over 1,200 venues across Croatia, and the two-week deadline for the initiative expired at midnight on 18 December.

For a referendum campaign to be successful, its organizers must collect the signatures of 10% of the electorate or 368,446 signatures.

Grmoja, however, stopped short of specifying the number of collected signatures, and in his statement to Hina on Sunday evening, he said that they were still gathering data and information from the ground and from local teams that had collected signatures in the last 14 days.

The results of the referendum campaign of this Opposition party are expected to be known on Wednesday.

On Saturday, the last day of the campaign, Grmoja said that data on the turnout from all signature-collecting points should be known by Wednesday, claiming that in the last two days of the campaign, on Friday and Saturday, the turnout was excellent.

Last Wednesday, he told a news conference that they had collected around 300,000 signatures, and in a bid to encourage as many people as possible to sign the petition, senior Bridge members joined the party activists on the ground collecting signatures.

In the event that the referendum petition had been supported by the required number of signatures, the questions proposed for the referendum could be also tested by the Constitutional Court.

President Milanović on the referendum

On 6 December, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said that he wouldn't sign the Bridge party's referendum petition for the abolition of COVID certificates because he thought he "isn't here to root for anyone", and he told the government and the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party that they had brought this on themselves.

"I have said I will not sign it, but what I'm saying carries at least as much weight as some signature. I believe the government and the HDZ are responsible for signatures being collected now for amending the Constitution so that what is clear to everyone, except to the HDZ and Plenković, could become clear to them as well," said Milanović.

Commenting on the referendum on that occasion, Milanović said it consisted of two parts, the first of which was a matter of constitutionality with regard to Article 17, or cases when it is decided on a temporary suspension of fundamental human rights and freedoms. According to him, the first part of the referendum will depend on whether enough signatures are collected, and if there are enough of them, then the referendum will likely succeed because those in favor of the crisis management team running Croatia, and they're about 25% of them, he says, will simply not cast their vote or their number will be insufficient.

"I think the second part of the referendum, which deals with legislative changes, is not very well though-out and... the Constitutional Court may not allow those referendum questions," he said then.

Four opposition groups say they never supported Bridge's referendum initiative

Last Thursday, MPs from the Green-Left Bloc, Centre/GLAS, Peasant Party /Workers' Front, and Istrian Democratic Party groups strongly denied the statement by the Bridge's Vice President Grmoja that he had received guarantees from all opposition parties that they would support Bridge's referendum petition.

"That statement is a complete lie," says a joint statement signed by the leaders of the four opposition groups, stressing that these parties "neither participated in the meeting on the referendum initiative nor pledged their support in any way."

"It is unclear why MP Grmoja told such lies. ... Some members of our groups have warned Bridge MPs several times that the referendum initiative will further divide citizens, mobilize anti-vax sentiment, help spread fake news and conspiracy theories, and potentially contribute to the escalation of violence among citizens," the joint statement said.

The statement was released the day after in the national parliament Bridge deputies entered into a conflict with Opposition lawmakers from the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and other center-left groups on the topic of vaccination against coronavirus.

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

For more on COVID-19, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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