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.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Croatian Covid Certificates in Autumn: Will Croatia Follow France?

August 12, 2021 - Will Croatian Covid certificates in autumn be the norm to avoid further lockdowns? A look at how things should look once summer ends and if Croatia's Covid certificates model will look like France. 

What will happen to Covid passports this autumn? And will they be introduced for all facilities? This topic was discussed between Index.hr and a source from the National Headquarters. Although some wrote that they would be introduced to enter shopping malls in the autumn, it likely will not happen.

It should also be noted that Covid passports are already used to enter many places such as clubs, sports competitions, weddings, and various cultural events.

They won't be needed for shopping malls.

"As far as shopping malls are concerned, no Covid certificates will be required to enter the shops. Therefore, people stay in stores for shorter periods and only need to wear masks. But there are some other facilities for which Covid certificates are planned to be used inside shopping malls. Facility owners, if they responsibly monitor the epidemiological status of their guests, which is really their second job because we have introduced an application in which confirmation is read and checked in a second, will only ensure that the epidemiological situation remains favorable. In that case, closures would be avoided, which is not the goal of anyone, not even the Headquarters. We want everyone to be open and for the epidemiological situation to be good," a source from the Headquarters told Index.

By facilities, we mean cafes, which still cannot work inside. In addition to them, Covid certificates are also considered for entering cinemas and theaters, as they have been needed for various cultural events for some time.

"Covid certificates should be used in the context of opening, not closing, for example, if nightclubs could not work, and now they can because they use Covid certificates, so now we need to see how much Covid certificates guarantee, so that those parts of the catering industry that were forbidden to work, such as the interiors of cafes, also work. So, the message is that Covid certificates are seen as a tool to enable opening, not closing. So, there are no more closures, we will not close, but we are thinking intensively about the wise use of Covid certificates," the source added.

In Europe, Covid certificates are intensively used for various facilities, for entrances to hotels, restaurants, bars, museums, theaters, and amusement parks.

In France, from July, visitors to museums, cinemas, and swimming pools must show a Covid certificate, which is already a condition for entering festivals with a large number of people and nightclubs and venues with a capacity of more than 50 people. From August, certificates are a condition for entering restaurants and bars and long train journeys and boarding. From October, this will also apply to children over the age of 12, not just adults.

Denmark has required CoronaPass for indoor restaurant areas and cultural spaces for some time. In Austria, you also need to present a Covid certificate to enter hotels.

In Italy, the decision to use Covid passes to visit stadiums, cinemas, museums, theaters and cinemas, exhibitions, swimming pools, gyms, and indoor parts of restaurants came into force on 6 August.

The United Kingdom, until recently a member of the European Union, plans to introduce Covid certificates for several places. According to The Guardian, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that by the end of September, when all doses of vaccine should be offered to all British adults, Covid passes or certificates will be introduced for nightclubs, concert halls, and similar venues with “higher risk,” due to the crowds gathered. That condition was not ruled out either for English pubs and entrance to trains and public transportation.

Greece has banned unvaccinated people from accessing indoor spaces in restaurants, bars, cafes, and cinemas.

In Portugal, over 60 high and very high-risk municipalities, including Lisbon and Porto, currently require proof of Covid vaccination or a negative test on Friday evenings after 7 pm and on weekends.

In Germany, guests must present a negative test result or proof of vaccination to be admitted to the closed parts of catering facilities.

The use of Covid certificates is being introduced across Europe to ensure that visitors to bars, restaurants, museums, indoor sports facilities, and other cultural or entertainment events and facilities are protected from infection, but also so that they would no longer be subject to measures such as the obligatory wearing of masks, social distancing or the maximum number of visitors.

As a source from the National Headquarters told Index, their goal is not to close economic facilities anymore, but for Covid certificates to serve to ensure the best possible epidemiological situation.

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.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Lawmakers Divided Over COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 21 May 2021 - After the European Parliament, Council of the EU chair Portugal and the European Commission approved the COVID-19 certificate, intended to help summer tourism in the EU, the Croatian Sabor on Friday expressed dissenting opinions, from support to warnings that this was a discriminatory decision.

Social Democratic Party MP Arsen Bauk told reporters that SDP's MEPs had supported embarking on an agreement with the European Council with regard to COVID-passports and that the party supports them in the Croatian parliament too if they will facilitate travel and getting back to normal.

"Naturally, we are aware of the dangers of them being a means of discrimination and we will observe that solution with caution, as we did with the (COVID-19) measures, but in principle, we support the idea," he said, adding that the reference to discrimination was in the sense that the certificate serves to diminish someone's rights.

We're aware of that danger and that is why we will take care that that does not happen. We consider that that is primarily a document that facilitates life for citizens and only possibly something that discriminates, Bauk underscored.

If there are contentious things, such as protection of personal information, they are less than the benefits that the certificate can bring for a normal life for citizens, he added.

Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) underscored that until there is an equal approach for all EU countries to all three conditions that are set as essential to be issued with the certificates, and considering that Croatia has a low inoculation rate, that decision is discriminatory as it does not put all EU member states in an equal position.

It is also contentious, she added, how long that decision will apply and how it will apply to people who have been vaccinated with vaccines that have not been approved by the EU, which means that some EU citizens will not have the same rights as other EU citizens.

Stjepo Bartulica (Homeland Movement) said that it is necessary to warn that the COVID certificates could pose a threat to fundamental freedoms and rights.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 14 May 2021

First Post-Covid Pilot Party in Croatia Held, Digital Green Certificates on Schedule for June 1

May 14, 2021 - The first post-Covid pilot party in Croatia took place in Zagreb at the Rooftop Lateral restaurant.

Last night, the first pilot project of a private business event in Zagreb was held, reports HRTurizam.

This is the first event in Croatia, which aims to prove that the event is safe and, in fact, represents a step towards the old normal. About ninety guests gathered to participate in this kind of research. The initiator of the project is the Independent Association of Caterers, with the great support of the Croatian Civil Protection Headquarters and the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

The President of the Association, Žakline Troskot, points out that the project has been prepared since March this year and they are very proud that their idea has been realized. All participants have been vaccinated twice, and after a week, they will undergo testing. "If the results are favorable, catering will return to normal soon, as well as other related industries, which have suffered great losses since some of them have been closed for 15 months," said Troskot.


Matija Habljak / PIXSELL

Croatian Institute of Public Health epidemiologist, Ph.D. Dijana Mayer emphasized the importance of vaccination because a large percentage of vaccinated citizens will greatly simplify life and enable events to take place and much greater mobility of people.

Epidemiological constraints have made life difficult for many, and a particularly vulnerable group is the hospitality industry. The decline in turnover in the hospitality industry in the first four months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019 is 55.5%.

The event industry has been declining by 90% since the beginning of the pandemic. Last year alone, more than 100 festivals were canceled, attracting about a million visitors from all over the world to Croatia every year. Namely, according to Unison's research, this industry accounts for 6.3% of Croatia's GDP and employs about 17,000 people. Only 50-60% of companies and employees involved in events until the pandemic will remain.


Matija Habljak / PIXSELL

Many newlyweds dream of lavish weddings with live music, which they have not been able to hold in the last 15 months. Provisional statistics from the Central Bureau of Statistics show that the restriction of gatherings has greatly affected the holding of wedding ceremonies.

Often unpredictable circumstances in 2020 influenced couples and their decision to hold wedding ceremonies and, in general, enter into a marital union. Data for all 12 months show that in 2020 the total number of marriages decreased by 22.9% compared to the previous year, i.e., 4,972 fewer marriages were concluded. In Croatia, we have more than 300 catering houses and about as many wedding halls. The sector employs more than 12 thousand people, which makes this figure twice as high when we consider the whole range of related activities involved in organizing a wedding, from planners, decorators, florists, musicians, photographers, and others.

On Saturday, the second pilot project will be held in Zagreb's Riverside Golf Club - a simulation of a wedding ceremony with a live performance by a band, which is expected to have more than 100 participants. Unlike the first, three groups of guests are participating in Saturday's event - vaccinated, tested (the day before at the CNIPH), and people who have already recovered from COVID-19.

Like the first group, the guests from the wedding ceremony will be tested a week after the event. The favorable outcome of both tests will certainly be a step towards the old normal and the possibility of opening catering and other industries while respecting certain conditions defined by the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.

Minister of Health Vili Beroš reported on Thursday at the 57th session of the Government of the Republic of Croatia that almost 29 percent of the adult population has been vaccinated with one dose and eight percent with both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

A total of 1,571,650 doses of vaccine have arrived in Croatia so far, and more than 1,230,000 doses have been consumed since the beginning of vaccination, said Beroš, adding: “We are recording a promising trend of fewer newly infected people."

Deputy Prime Minister Božinović announced a possible easing of epidemiological measures as of June 1.

"Given that the number of coronavirus patients has been declining in recent days, appropriate preparations are being made for a possible easing of epidemiological measures from June 1, so pilot projects of various events will be implemented in the coming days," Božinović said.

One week after the events, participants will be tested by PCR tests at the CNIPH, and if it turns out that there was no transmission of the infection, ways to relax measures for such events will be considered, Božinović said.

Božinović reported that Croatia was the first member of the European Union to successfully conduct a pilot test of the digital green certificate system, the so-called Covid passport.

"AKD (Agency for Commercial Activity), which is in charge of developing the technical solution, successfully performed testing with a central digital gateway, and it was confirmed that all key components of the Croatian system are functional and ready to start issuing certificates announced for early June," he said. Božinović added that the system successfully generates QR codes for all three types of certificates - on vaccination, testing, and recovery, and the exchange of public keys with other member states through the EU accession, since an application was made to verify certificates of other countries.

The government's working group will define business rules for issuing certificates to citizens, harmonize the visual identity of certificates with EU requirements, prepare communication and information materials, and other technical matters regarding the application of certificates, Božinović added.

For all, you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers up and down the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

The Latest on Covid Passports in Croatia Revealed

April 22, 2021 - Covid passports in Croatia could be implemented as early as June. Index.hr shares the latest on Covid passports in the country. 

Croatia is working intensively on 'Covid passports' which should be in circulation as early as the beginning of June, according to Index.hr.

"It is designed to be issued digitally. An application will be created to generate a secure QR code that will contain information about the passenger, their name and surname, the date when they received the vaccine, when they were tested, or when they recovered from Covid. This is being done intensively; Croatia is certainly among the countries working most actively on it. Our plan is for everything to be finished by the beginning of June," said Index's well-informed source.

The Ministry of Health will be in charge of everything related to the Covid passport or the mentioned QR code.

Croatia is one of thirteen European countries that have already agreed on criteria for Covid passports, i.e., digital certificates that would facilitate travel during the pandemic.

Along with Croatia, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain are involved in the initiative, and the European Commission should soon comment on the criteria.

Austrian Minister of Tourism Elisabeth Köstinger recently stated that this initiative for the faster introduction of the passport should enable the survival of the European tourism sector.

This confirmation would guarantee passengers that they will not end up in quarantine.

Recall that the European Commission in mid-March proposed introducing a digital green certificate for free movement within the EU during the pandemic, which would be evidence of vaccination, a negative test, or proof that you have recovered from the virus. 

France became the first EU member state to start testing digital covid passports. The TousAntiCovid application is part of the state program for searching for contacts of infected people. It has been upgraded to store data such as a negative result on passengers' mobile phones.

France's Le Monde reported that from April 29, the application would include vaccination data.

Everyone who is tested for coronavirus will also receive a digital confirmation by message or e-mail, which they will be able to store in the TousAntiCovid application.

Several EU member states are developing similar systems. Denmark was also among the first to present its Coronapas.

Football fans are allowed to enter stadiums, bars, and restaurants, and museums are reopening as Denmark takes a big step to lift restrictions. The condition for Danes to take advantage of the new freedom is that they must prove they are not infected, showing the Coronapas, writes the BBC.

It is a digital application MinSundhed (MyHealth), that shows whether a person has had a negative test result in the last 72 hours or a confirmation of vaccination or proof of a previous infection two to 12 weeks ago.

By the way, the extraordinary board of the World Health Organization (WHO) this week recommended that vaccination certificates not be a precondition for international travel because the vaccine is unevenly distributed between countries.

For the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia, HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Croatia and 12 Other EU Countries Agree on Green Tourist Passport

ZAGREB, 12 April, 2021 - Croatia and 12 other EU countries have agreed on criteria for a so-called green passport which is expected to facilitate the movement of tourists during the current time of pandemic, it was said in Vienna on Monday.

It is our goal to soon enable the use of a possibly single green passport at the EU level, Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger told the Austrian news agency APA.

The minister noted that this was a matter of survival for European tourism.

Croatia, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain in late March agreed on seven criteria for issuing a green passport, which is expected to become a reality by early June at the latest.

The green passport contains a QR code with information on whether its holder has been vaccinated, tested or has recovered from coronavirus. It enables simple and practical application in the EU, from check-ins at airports to visits to village pubs, Köstinger said.

She stressed that one definitely wants to prevent this type of document from being treated as a way to make someone get vaccinated.

Sensitive medical information on the holder of the green passport would stay in the country of origin and would not be stored centrally at EU level.

Another goal is harmonising the application of the green passport with third countries.

The list of criteria for green passports has been submitted for control to the European Commission, which is expected to decide on their application in the coming days.

For more on coronavirus in Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section.


Sunday, 7 March 2021

Croatia Covid Passport Support Will Happen Only in One Case

March the 7th, 2021 - When it comes to the controversial issue of Covid passports, first discussed at any serious level by Greece in its active attempts to see tourism return to its shores, there hasn´t been much said by Croatia. In fact, Croatia Covid passport support will only happen in one situation.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatia Covid passport support at the EU level will only exist if such a travel document is not mandatory, Jutarnji list wrote on Sunday, citing an anonymous, well-informed source who said that crossing borders without restrictions should be allowed for those who present a negative coronavirus test result or their vaccination certificate.

After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced this week that they were considering the introduction of a "Digital Green Certificate" for easier border crossings, it became clear that a common solution was being sought at the European Union level to restart passenger traffic between countries. The Commission's final proposal on what the certificate should look like and how passengers will use it should be completed by March the 17th, but the story so far is accompanied by a series of ambiguities and even a fundamental misunderstanding of what the certificate should represent.

According to Politico, which received access to Ursula von der Leyen's letter on the certificate, the European Commission advocates that the certificate not only be proof that passengers have been vaccinated, but also that it combines negative PCR test results in one place, as well as confirmation that the passenger is immune to the virus following their contraction of it and their subsequent recovery from it.

For the introduction of the official certificate, at least according to Politico, mainly tourism dependent countries are in full favour of the document. Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Greece, as well as Cyprus, have all already announced that they plan to start allowing vaccinated Britons into the country without the need for any restrictions, while Cyprus and Greece have come to a very similar agreement reached with Israel, which has done excellently in terms of vaccination of the general population.

However, some other countries are also inclined to introduce this document, and this initiative was welcomed last week by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, while Croatia, although dependent on tourism, has so far only very shyly responded to this burning topic.

As Jutarnji list has learned from a well-informed source, Croatian politics generally supports all efforts that will result in easier border crossings, but only if it will not be discriminatory towards citizens.

Although it is unclear what the certificate itself should look like, it is currently being discussed that it will actually be in the form of an app on a smartphone in which the traveller will have their negative test results, their certificate of vaccination or proof of having recovered from the novel disease.

In that sense, Croatia Covid passport support would only occur if it would not be made obligatory for passengers, ie if those who do not have a certificate, but can present their negative test result or their vaccination certificate in some other form would also be allowed to cross borders without facing restrictions, reports Jutarnji list.

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