Thursday, 16 December 2021

Large Fines Introduced for Refusing to Present Covid Certificates in Croatian Public Institutions

December 16, 2021 - On Wednesday, December 15, 2021, the Croatian Parliament amended the Law on Protecting the Population from Infectious Diseases. It introduced 30 to 50 thousand kuna fines for refusing to present Covid certificates in Croatian public institutions.

On the same day, the Croatian Civil Protection Headquarters made seven new decisions valid from December 16 to 31 this year, when they will be considered again. The Headquarters extended the Decision on introducing a special security measure in the social welfare sector, reports

The decision implies “mandatory testing of all employees for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in social welfare, i.e., in social welfare institutions, associations, religious communities, other legal entities, craftspeople and natural persons who perform social care as a professional activity and the Center for Special Custody, who come to work at least twice in seven days. Exceptionally, testing is not mandatory for employees who "qualify for vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 unless they have signs of respiratory infection, other symptoms, or signs of COVID-19."

Recall, from mid-November this year, Covid certificates are mandatory for all employees of public and state services and users of their services.

The same decision applies to all parties who come there, all service providers who provide services in those premises, or other persons who come there on any grounds. Those who refuse to present a certificate cannot enter the premises.

The EU digital Covid certificate system has been developed at the European Union level, with 42 countries participating.

Issuing certificates

The easiest way to get you Covid confirmation is through the e-Citizens platform. However, some citizens who do not use e-Citizens can physically obtain a certificate. Certificates can also be obtained from pharmacies.

All test sites can issue a certificate, HZZO counters do the same, and family medicine practices, pediatric and dental practices.

Each test and vaccination is immediately recorded in the system. Any change in the status of the vaccinated person requires the person to obtain a new Covid certificate.

The third vaccine dose does not mean that the Covid certificate is automatically extended. These people need a new certificate because an extra dose does not mean an automatic extension. The new permit will be valid for one year from the date of vaccination.

Covid certificate control

Controlling certificates is done with the help of the covidGo mobile application, and it is available to everyone for free. Furthermore, the application does not require internet and works offline.

The public key list is updated once a week. The control itself does not require costs; it can be easily done with free tools.

When certificates in public institutions do not apply

Certificates do not apply to students, pupils, persons under the age of 16, persons who bring a child or pupil to school in kindergarten, persons who accompany a person who cannot take care of themselves, persons who come to the HZZO area to pick up their Covid certificate, to users of postal services who have to pick up shipments whose non-acceptance would have legal consequences and to persons who have a contraindication to the vaccine.

A doctor's certificate can also be used to come to work, which is issued based on a rapid antigen test to confirm that the person has recovered from the virus for the past 12 months. Also, those who had the infection within 12 months and proved it by PCR test must show medical documentation.

The testing obligation does not apply to public transport. The headquarters extended the decisions related to the operation of shops, public transportation, the decision on masks, and on crossing the border.

People who go to trial do not have to have a Covid certificate, but they must adhere to all other epidemiological measures.

Members of the Croatian Civil Protection Headquarters invited other private employers (who do not participate in social welfare) to introduce the mandatory Covid certificate measure because it is not compulsory for them but in the form of a recommendation.

Assembly decision modified

On Wednesday (December 15, 2021), the Headquarters amended the Decision on Restricting Assemblies, i.e., introduced the permission that more than 100 people can attend a public event or assembly, if approved by the County Public Health Institute in whose area the assembly is held. 

Due to the new strain of the virus, the Headquarters extended the temporary ban on entry into Croatia of persons coming from South Africa, Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and the Republic of Mozambique, or who have stayed in those countries for the past 14 days. The amended decision allowed persons from Hong Kong to re-enter.

Exceptionally, citizens of the Republic of Croatia (RH) and members of their families who are long-term residents, who have the right to reside under other EU directives or national law in the Republic of Croatia or who have long-term national visas for the Republic of Croatia are exempted from the decision. However, they are subject to a mandatory quarantine of 14 days upon entry and compulsory testing on the last day of quarantine.

Until the end of the year, the current measures concerning border crossings, public transport, the mandatory use of face masks, and organizing the work of shops will be extended.

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.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Opposition MP: Court to Be Asked to Test Constitutionality of COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 14 Dec 2021 - Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left Bloc (ZLB) on Tuesday said that they had collected 34 lawmakers' signatures to file an appeal to the Constitutional Court to test the constitutionality of COVID-certificates.

"As we announced before, we are sending the request to the Constitutional Court to assess the constitutionality of the decision on COVID certificates, not because of its contents, or COVID certificates as such, but rather the way the decision was made," Benčić said in Parliament House.

She believes that all decisions that restrict human rights during the pandemic, which is deemed to be an emergency situation, have to be adopted by a two-thirds majority in the national parliament and in accordance with Article 17 of the Constitution.

"Had we acted in that way from the start, we would have succeeded in creating a better way to strengthen social cohesion concerning vaccination," said Bančić and added that the Constitutional Court is expected to be a guardian of the Constitution.

A constitutional request requires the signatures of one-fifth of lawmakers. ZLB has collected 34 signatures from the SDP, Social Democrats, IDS, Centre, and GLAS parties as well as the HSS and RF, said Benčić.

She announced that they are prepared to request a test of the constitutionality of the procedure to adopt amendments to the Law on the Protection of the Population against Infectious Diseases which regulates penalties of up to HRK 50,000 for breaches of COVID certificates which will be put to the vote in the Sabor on Wednesday.

"We want penalties related to COVID certificates to be decided by a two-thirds majority and if that won't pass easily we are prepared to request a test on its constitutionality because the bill will not have been accepted with the necessary majority," she said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 10 December 2021

Lawmakers Engaged in Heated Debate Over COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 10 Dec 2021 - Members of the Croatian parliament on Thursday started a heated debate on a bill on the protection of the population against infectious diseases which envisages fines up to HRK 50,000 for responsible persons not complying with the COVID-19 certificate mandate in bodies governed by public law.

COVID certificates are unconstitutional and unlawful and they are not an effective measure and it has been proved that only testing can protect the population, said Miro Bulj of the Opposition Bridge party.

He said that the amendments to the law would usher in "unconstitutional lockdown and abuse with COVID certificates."

Josip Borić of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) responded that the Bridge party in fact, "is the only one that wishes to lock down citizens within Croatia if COVID certificates were to be abolished."

"You cannot travel to any other country without a COVID certificate," Borić explained.

Branko Bačić (HDZ) underscored that questioning COVID certificates resembles something that would be debated in the Middle Ages rather than the 21st century.

He supported the introduction of certificates with the argument that of 570,000 tests, which have been conducted since the COVID certificate mandate for the public sector, 8,515 were positive.

Had those 8,515 persons entered the system, that would have led to the infection of about 50,000 people and about 100 would have died, claimed Bačić and recalled that all democratic countries have introduced the certificates.

Opposition MPs pointed out a series of illogical, inconsistent, and vague measures adopted in the attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

People are tested prior to entering Slovenia and when they get to the border with Austria they get a positive result which makes the certificate redundant, Dario Zurovec of the Fokus party said and underscored that any restriction of movements is contrary to the Constitution and EU legal acquis.

Hrvoje Zekanović of the Croatian Sovereignists (HS) explained that one can enter a building housing a post office without a certificate but have to produce it when they arrive at the counter. If you can enter a shop without a certificate then that should be valid for a post office too. He wondered who would cover the cost of losses post offices might suffer due to the mandatory certificates.

Decisions should be brought by a two-thirds majority

The opposition called for decisions to be adopted with a two-thirds majority in the Sabor.

Andreja Marić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)  called for complying with the advice and recommendations made by experts and doctors and for vaccination, however, she wondered whether COVID certificates perhaps are a restriction on human rights and freedom because some institutions do not require certificates yet others do.

Anka Mrak Taritaš of the GLAS party said that the discussion should be focused on the life and death of citizens rather than on COVID certificates.

During the 1991-1995 Homeland War, an estimated 15,000 citizens were killed, and the COVID-19 pandemic has taken 11,500 lives in Croatia so far, she underscored.

Let those under the influence drive too!

Katarina Peović of the Workers' Front (RF) said that Croatia has the most liberal anti-epidemic measures in Europe and responded in an ironic manner to those who argue that vaccinated people can also spread the virus, that she would appeal to let people under the influence to drive, "because those who aren't under the influence can also cause accidents."

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

Friday, 3 December 2021

MPs to Fast-Track Fines for Flouting COVID Certificate Mandate

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021- The Croatian Parliament on Friday added 19 items to its agenda, including amendments that would impose fines of up to HRK 50,000 on responsible persons in public bodies who fail to comply with the COVID certificate mandate.

Parliament will fast-track the amendments to the law protecting the population from infectious diseases, despite objections from the opposition Green-Left Bloc, whose Sandra Benčić requested that a two-thirds majority be required to change the law.

However, 77 MPs voted for fast-tracking, while 45 were against.

MPs will also fast-track amendments to the Criminal Code and the Civil Protection System Act.

Parliament is due to wrap up its autumn session on 15 December and there are more than 130 items on the agenda left.

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

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Minister: Croatia Still Not Mulling Mandatory Vaccination Against COVID

ZAGREB, 2 Dec 2021 - The idea of compulsory vaccination against coronavirus is not yet on the government's agenda, however, anti-epidemic measures will depend on the epidemiological situation, Croatian Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday.

The minister did not rule out the possibility of the fifth wave of the pandemic hitting Croatia if the country failed to reach the necessary vaccination rate.

"We have been emphasizing all along that vaccination is voluntary, and we have not considered the vaccination mandate. Since the onset of the pandemic we have been saying that all the measures are on the table and that epidemiological developments shape our choice of the measures," Beroš told a news conference after the government's meeting today.

He recalled that in Europe there are warnings that if a certain vaccination rate is not achieved, the fifth wave of the pandemic is possible in February.

"No one can know what awaits us so I cannot completely rule out the introduction of mandatory vaccination," Beroš said, admitting that mandatory vaccination could deepen the divisions in society and provoke resistance.

"Therefore, let us get vaccinated to deter a possible fifth wave and the emergence of new variants (of the virus)."

Croatia has seen a decline in new coronavirus numbers over recent days, which the minister associated with more and more people getting inoculated and with the introduction of the COVID certificate mandate.

Although he expressed hope for a more serene Christmas season, the minister called for exercising caution.

As for the inclusion of his name on the "Croatian Traitors" website, Beroš said that he felt extremely bad about it.

"Every single move and decision we make... is aimed at protecting the health of Croatian citizens. Anything else is bad stories that will be judged by history," the minister said.

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

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Opposition for Two-thirds Majority Regarding COVID Certificates, Fines

ZAGREB, 2 Dec 2021 - The opposition on Thursday criticized the government's proposal to fine HRK 30,000 to 50,000 those not checking COVID certificates, asking that parliament decide on such measures by a two-thirds majority and some MPs saying they would ask the Constitutional Court for its opinion.

Arsen Bauk of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said the SDP would not support the proposal because the party believed that the way in which the national COVID-19 crisis management team was making decisions during this crisis was not good.

"We are still of the opinion that when restricting human rights, decisions should be made by the Croatian parliament, and those of a technical nature by the government," he said, adding that the team could act as an advisory body to the government.

Nikola Grmoja of Bridge said the government did not mention COVID certificates in the law protecting the population from infectious diseases but only today, and that it envisaged fining officeholders also.

Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left Bloc asked that provisions on the certificates and the related fines be adopted only by a two-thirds majority in parliament based on Article 17 of the Constitution, given that there were no conditions to do so based on Article 16, that is proportionality.

"That was a big mistake, so we are preparing an initiative for the Constitutional Court to have its say because this state is no longer temporary. We have been in a state of emergency for a year and a half now and it doesn't seem that the pandemic will end soon," she said.

That's why it's necessary to have clear rules on how to reach a political and social consensus because this state, Benčić said, will definitely last and it also has serious social repercussions such as polarisation.

The Constitutional Court too must say that we are in a state of emergency because after a year and a half no one can say any longer that this is normal, she added.

Stephen Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said he had been skeptical about the efficacy of COVID certificates from the start because, he added, the experience of many countries showed that they were ineffective and counterproductive as well as not solving the problem.

He is sorry about the government's proposal because so far, he said, it had quite a liberal course in fighting the pandemic and Croatia benefitted from it. Now a new path was chosen, he added, "and I don't know why it's following countries with a bad model of fighting the pandemic."

Katarina Peović of Workers' Front said the state authorities were indecisive about vaccination and where COVID certificates should be required. In a library they are, in a bar, they are not, as a result of which we have 60 to 70 deaths a day, she added.

In post-socialist countries, where the public sector has been strongly devastated, there is a big distrust of institutions, and that's brought us into this situation, she said.

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

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Gov't Amends Law to Introduce Fines for Noncompliance with COVID Certificate Mandate

ZAGREB, 2 Dec 2021 - Changes to the Act on the Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases, sent on Thursday by the government to the parliament for consideration under a fast-track procedure, envisage fines for responsible persons not complying with the COVID-19 certificate mandate in bodies governed by public law. 

The fines range between HRK 30,000 and 50,000.

The changes specify the bodies governed by public law in charge of implementing measures from the said law as well as responsible persons in those bodies - leader of a body of state authority, leader of a body of state administration and other state body, county head, the mayor as well as the legal representative of the legal entity, in line with special regulations.

"The bill introduces a new safety measure, the obligation to present proof of testing, vaccination or recovery from an infectious disease before entering offices of bodies governed by public law, as well as the obligation of responsible persons in those bodies to enable its implementation," said Health Minister Vili Beroš.

To ensure the implementation of the new measure, the powers of health inspectors will be enhanced to enable them to supervise compliance with the COVID-19 certificate mandate, while failure to ensure its implementation carries a fine of between HRK 30,000 and 50,000.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a session of the government, Justice and Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said that he was not afraid that the fines would prompt protests, reiterating that the government was not considering making vaccination mandatory.

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

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Covid Certificate Related Dismissals in Croatian Education System to Come

November the 25th, 2021 - With stories now becoming more and more common in which people are dismissed or suspended without payment due to not presenting a valid covid certificate or refusing to regularly test, are covid certificate related dismissals set to come to the Croatian education system as well? It seems so.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at the beginning of December this year, the first extraordinary dismissals can be expected in the Croatian education system for those employees who haven't been vaccinated and are refusing coronavirus testing, announced the president of the union Zeljko Stipic, emphasising that this week, the first warnings were handed out to teachers without covid certificates.

"The first warnings have been issued. There haven't been too many of them, and we'll know how many exactly there have been when we collect all the data. What we currently know is that there are about fifty of our members who didn't want to be vaccinated or get tested, but this doesn't represent the number of those people who received warnings, because in the meantime there were those who changed their minds. Either they got vaccinated, or they agreed to be tested,'' Stipic said.

There are also those, he added, who asked for unpaid leave due to their decision not to be tested or vaccinated, and the school principals approved it, there are also those who decided to use their sick leave.

"According to the proposal of the competent Ministry, an employee who doesn't present the a covid certificate is issued with a warning first, and then comes the second warning. The second warning comes after an employee fails to present a covid certificate or test result within a period of seven days, and if they've failed to justify their absence from the classroom in another acceptable way. In that same second warning, the school principal issues a warning before initiating the procedure of extraordinary termination of that person's employment contract,'' explained Stipic.

The fact that the first warnings began to be handed out to those working within the Croatian education system has also been confirmed by the president of the Association of High School Principals, Suzana Hitrec, as Novi list reported.

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.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Fines for COVID Certificate Rule Violations to Range Between €4,000-6,700

ZAGREB, 23 Nov 2021 - Justice and Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said on Tuesday that fines for those flouting the mandate to show their COVID-19 certificates in public law bodies would range between 30,000 and 50,000 kuna ( €4,000-6,700).  

We have envisaged pecuniary penalties for the responsible persons who fail to respect the relevant law. Fines are between HRK 30,000 and HRK 50,000, and we believe that they will prompt those institutions' heads and persons in charge to respect the decisions made by the national COVID-19 crisis management team, said the minister.

The draft amendments to the relevant legislation will be on the agenda of the government's meeting on Wednesday.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.


Monday, 22 November 2021

COVID Certificates for Cafes, Restaurants Supported by Majority

November 22, 2021 - Despite recent massive protests against the mandate to use COVID certificates, the use of these to enter restaurants, cafes, and other businesses is supported by more than half of the population in a recent survey.

As the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases and the number of daily deaths continue to rise in Croatia, two parallel realities are facing each other in the country. On one hand, the imposition of the use of COVID certificates to enter public institutions and soon private businesses has motivated thousands of Croats to get vaccinated in recent weeks. On the other hand, this has unleashed a mass movement of thousands of citizens who oppose the measure and demand that the government desists from the restrictions imposed.

Last night in the central Dnevnik of HTV, market research - HReiting was published, and one of the topics of the research was whether citizens support the introduction of COVID certificates for entering cafes and restaurants, reports HrTurizam.

When asked if you support the introduction of COVID certificates for entry to cafes and restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, following the example of other countries, a small majority of respondents support them. Namely, 55% of them support the introduction of COVID certificates for entering cafes and restaurants, while 40% of respondents do not. Others do not know or are not sure, ie. they do not want to answer.

The survey was conducted from November 15 to 17 on a sample of 1,400 respondents. The largest sample error is +/- 2.62% and the research reliability is 95%.

Croatia has registered 1,327 new coronavirus cases and 73 COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours, the national coronavirus response team reported on Monday.

This is the largest number of deaths in a single day during the fourth wave of the pandemic, while the absolute record of 92 deaths was registered on 16 December 2020.

As of 21 November, 3,985,860 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 52.38 percent of the total population, or 62.54 percent of the adult population, having been vaccinated. 2,125,514 persons have received at least one dose, while 1,896,361 have been fully vaccinated, which is 56.04 percent of the adult population.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

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