Wednesday, 30 June 2021

New Measures in Croatia from July 1: What Changes Tomorrow?

June 30, 2021 - A look at the new COVID-19 measures in Croatia from July 1. 

New epidemiological measures will take effect tomorrow, July 1. 

More freedom for all with Covid passports
It is important to point out that as of July 1, there is no ban on the number of people gathered for events for people who have digital EU certificates.

The new measures mostly refer to gatherings of people who have an EU digital certificate -  there are no restrictions on the number of people gathered in this sense, nor will there be restrictions placed on the duration of such gatherings.

The organizers of such events will have access to a mobile application through which they will be able to read the QR code from the digital EU certificate. However, the consent of the local civil protection headquarters will be required for such events.

Bozinovic emphasized that for other cases, in which the Covid status of persons will not be controlled, there remains a limit of 100 persons, and a limit on the duration of the event up to midnight. 

These are all measures that are in force from tomorrow
- ban on holding all public events and gatherings attended by more than 100 people in one place, unless it is a public event or gathering attended only by persons with an EU digital covid-certificate, and the local civil protection headquarters of the local self-government gave consent
- public events and gatherings and ceremonies of all kinds can last up to 24:00, unless it is a public event or gathering attended only by persons with EU digital covid-certificate, and the competent civil protection headquarters of the local government gave consent
- at cemetaries, during last farewells and funerals, condolences to the bereaved must not be expressed in close contact, and cemetery administrations are obliged to monitor compliance with anti-epidemic measures
- working hours limit for bakeries and shops selling bread and bakery products until 24:00
- ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages from 24:00 to 6:00

Cafes can only serve you if you are sitting
- restricting the operation of catering facilities and family farms that provide catering services so that food, beverages, and sweets can be served in the outdoor service area, and only to guests sitting at tables, in strict compliance with prescribed epidemiological measures and special recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, and working hours can be determined from 6:00 to 24:00
- catering establishments may deliver, i.e., deliver food, beverages, and sweets in compliance with all anti-epidemic measures in one of the following ways: by personal collection before entering the catering facility without entering the facility, delivery from the catering facility by own delivery vehicle, delivery on the basis of business cooperation agreements concluded between the caterer and a third party (legal or natural-craftspeople), which are registered and entered in the Register of entities in the food business, the so-called "drive-through" way
- exceptionally from the anti-epidemic measure, catering facilities and family farms which, in accordance with the decision of the competent administrative body, prepare and serve guests hot and cold dishes and desserts, are allowed indoors, with strict adherence to general epidemiological measures and special recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, 
- exceptionally from the anti-epidemic measure, catering facilities such as night clubs, night bars, disco-bars and disco-clubs from the Bars category are allowed to work and serve all guests without restrictions on working hours, but only in open spaces and provided only for persons holding an EU digital covid-certificate (guests, staff, contractors, etc.)

Gatherings of more than 30 people if all have a Covid certificate
- holding private ceremonies and gatherings of all kinds (including wedding ceremonies) in catering and other facilities are allowed in compliance with all prescribed epidemiological measures if the ceremony is not attended by more than 30 people
- it is exceptionally allowed to hold wedding ceremonies with more than 30 people, with the obligatory notice of the wedding ceremony, stating the place, time and approximate number of persons who will be present to the competent county civil protection service via e-mail county centers 112 is in Annex 1), no later than 3 days before the event and compliance with special recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health and if all persons who will be present at the wedding ceremony have an EU digital covid-certificate
- the organizer of the wedding ceremony is obliged, before entering the space where the wedding ceremony is held, to check whether all persons who will be present at the wedding ceremony of the EU have a digital covid-certificate
- for holding wedding ceremonies that are in accordance with the above, it is not necessary to obtain the prior consent of the competent civil protection headquarters and do not have to end by 24:00
- opening hours of casinos, slot machine clubs, and payment points for betting can be determined from 8:00 to 24:00, with a ban on the provision of catering services in their premises
- strict adherence to anti-epidemic measures in gyms and fitness centers
- strict adherence to anti-epidemic measures when holding workshops, children's playrooms, and providing entertainment and recreational services indoors (birthday parties, amusement and family parks, etc.)
- suspension of all amateur cultural and artistic performances, programs, and events indoors
- suspension of fairs and other forms of economic and tourist events or events where products are sold, exhibited or displayed indoors
- mandatory use of face masks or medical masks at fairs and other forms of economic and tourist events or events where products are sold, exhibited or displayed in open spaces
- conferences and congresses attended by up to 100 people may be held in compliance with all prescribed epidemiological measures and special recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health

Sports and other
- sports competitions and training can be held only without spectators and with strict adherence to all prescribed epidemiological measures and special recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, and the organizers are obliged to ensure that all athletes and necessary technical staff adhere to prescribed epidemiological measures.
- exceptionally, sports competitions may be held in the presence of a maximum of 100 spectators if the following conditions are met: the county public health institute in whose territory the competition is held develops an epidemiological framework, and the county civil protection headquarters in the area where the competition takes place approves
exceptionally, sports competitions may be organized in the presence of more than 100 spectators, without the epidemiological framework and the approval of the competent county headquarters, if all spectators and technical organizational staff present at the competition have an EU digital covid-certificate; the organizers of such competitions are obliged to submit a notice of the competition stating the place, time and approximate number of persons who will be present to the competent county civil protection service by e-mail of county centers 112 no later than 3 days before the competition
- the fulfillment of the set conditions is obliged to be controlled by the organizer of the competition
- foreign language schools are obliged to perform their activities in strict compliance with the prescribed epidemiological measures
- driving schools can theoretically be held only online or otherwise must maintain long-distance contacts, driving lessons can last a maximum of 45 minutes, with mandatory measurement of body temperature before entering the car, a break between two candidates must be a minimum of 10 minutes to ventilate and disinfect the car and records must be kept of all participants in driving lessons
- recommendation that religious rites, whenever possible, be broadcast via radio, TV, or in any other way that will allow believers to attend a religious rite without coming to religious facilities
- recommendation to local and regional self-government units not to organize and facilitate public events and gatherings of a large number of persons, especially organized viewing of football matches during the European Football Championship, unless only persons holding an EU digital covid- confirmation.

Organizers of public events that will be attended only by persons holding an EU digital covid-certificate are obliged, no later than 7 days before the event, to notify the headquarters of the local self-government unit of the intention to organize such a gathering, in whose area such a public event, i.e., gathering, will be held and request prior consent for holding.

The competent civil protection headquarters is obliged to respond to the request for the issuance of prior consent within 3 days of its receipt. Prior consent can only be given for public events and gatherings where all participants will have an EU digital covid-certificate.

Source: Index.hr

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Sunday, 27 June 2021

Serbian Citizens Can Enter Croatia Without Certificates, Tests and Quarantine

ZAGREB, 27 June, 2021 - Citizens of Serbia can enter Croatia without any restrictions and under the same conditions that were in force before the measures put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, the Serbian Embassy in Zagreb says on its website.

Citing the revised conditions for entry into Croatia of 25 June 2021, the Serbian Embassy says that Serbian nationals do not need a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test.

On 12 May, Serbia made it possible for its citizens to obtain a digital green certificate proving that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and providing the results of PCR, antigen or serological testing. The certificate is recognised by Turkey, Greece, Slovenia and Hungary. 

On 19 June, for the first time in eight and a half months, Serbia registered a two-digit number of daily coronavirus cases, and the numbers of COVID-related deaths and hospitalisations have been decreasing steadily. 

In the last 24 hours, Serbia registered 63 new coronavirus cases after 4,903 tests done and two deaths. 314 infected persons were receiving hospital treatment on Sunday, including 12 who were placed on ventilators. Since the start of the epidemic in March last year, 716,301 people have been registered as having contracted the virus and 7,031 patients have died, according to the country's health authorities.

Since the start of the vaccination campaign in December last year, 5.2 million vaccine doses have been administered, with 2.7 million people receiving one dose and 2.5 million receiving both doses.

Serbia administers four vaccines - Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Chinese-made Sinopharm and Russian Sputnik V. The Belgrade-based Torlak Institute of Immunology and Virology started manufacturing Sputnik V on 4 June.

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

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Friday, 12 February 2021

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

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

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

An epidemiologically, but also sociologically and psychologically justified approach

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

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

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

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

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

2. Gyms and fitness centres:

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

3. Language schools:

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

4. Children's workshops and playrooms:

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

5. Slot machine clubs, bookmakers, and casinos:

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

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

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

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

Basic rules: limit gatherings and use your own initiative:

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

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

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

Source: Jutarnji.hr

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bernard-kaic-e505fb44671c29c2fdonRTL.jpgRTL screenshot

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

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

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

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

cat-3509266_1920.jpg

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

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

workout-5031071_1280.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 31 January 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 29 January 2021

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

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

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

siroant.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

6081683_f79a9255_originaldoggo.jpg© John Waring

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

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

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

Friday, 29 January 2021

VIDEO: Prohibition-Era Nightclubbing Zagreb, 33 Fined

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Bozinovic Announces New COVID-19 Measures for Shops in Croatia

December 9, 2020 - The National Civil Protection Headquarters held a press conference at 11 am on Wednesday. Interior Minister and Head of the Headquarters Davor Bozinovic announced new COVID-19 measures for shops in Croatia.

"Today is the 289th day since the virus appeared in Croatia. In the last 24 hours, we have 4520 new cases. The number of positive cases to date is 159,372. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 837,619 people have been tested. In the last 24 hours, we have 12,596 tests, which gives a positive percentage of 29.96. 2703 were hospitalized, and 377 were admitted. There are 277 patients on ventilators, which is 23 additional compared to yesterday. 268 people were released from hospitals. In the past 24 hours, we have 69 new fatalities, which gives a figure of 2367 deceased from the beginning," said the Headquarters, as reported by Index.hr.

Capak added: "Our weekly average has risen by 3.7% in the last week while we had a 17.4% increase last week, so this week our increase is less. Our incidence is still high; I'm talking about a 7-day incidence per 100 thousand people. At the moment, it is 582.1; the worst is in Međimurje and Varaždin with more than 1000," said Capak.

"When we look at the EU incidence scale, then we see that Croatia is in 26th place and only Luxembourg has a higher incidence. As for mortality, we are now 15th out of 27, and the rate is 547.8 per million people," Capak said. "As for the share of positives in testing, only two countries are worse than us."

"As we discussed on Monday in institutions dealing with COVID patients, today, we will emphasize the importance of caring for health professionals, whose experiences surpass all previous experiences badly. At KB Dubrava, there is permanent psychological and psychiatric care for all health professionals," said Health Minister Vili Beros.

"We are also trying to prevent the so-called burn out syndrome, and workshops and webinars with the idea of psychological help are organized. An active form of intervention has also been developed, where target groups are being helped in various ways, primarily by health professionals. I would not like to omit the efforts of the Croatian Psychological Chamber; they have established a network of emergency telephones and hired more than 150 psychologists who assist citizens," said Beros.

Questions from journalists followed

We still have week-to-week growth. What is the plan for further introducing measures? What are the new rules for shopping centers, and if this continues, what are the next steps?

"We discussed, in general, the criteria for strengthening or reducing measures. The direct answer is that on the 21st, we will consider which measures are appropriate; on the 21st, we will consider the situation. In case we get worse, of course, we will consider strengthening the measures. In all the measures we adopted about 10 days ago, there is a possibility that we further limit the number of gatherings and economic and social activities. Still, the 21st is the date when these measures cease to apply, and we amend the situation or the need to tighten measures," Capak said.

"As for the organization of shops and shopping centers, we have prepared a decision that is likely to be signed during the day and relates to the special organization of shops from this Saturday to January 10. In terms of this decision, stores and shopping malls are grouped according to the retail space's net area. The number of customers who can be in the store at the same time will be limited in such a way that in stores that have up to 10 square meters of retail space, there can be only one customer.

From 11 to 100 square meters, the maximum number of customers that can be in the store at the same time is determined so that there must be at least 10 square meters per customer. In spaces up to 200 square meters, there must be at least 12 square meters per customer. In shops up to 2000 square meters, there must be at least 16 square meters per customer, and for those larger than that, there must be at least 20 square meters per customer.

For shopping malls, the maximum number of customers will be determined to be at least 16 square meters for each customer. Stores and malls will need to make this clear at the entrance and strictly adhere to it. All stores are to take additional measures during the expected arrival of a larger number of customers so that more customers do not stay in the premises than allowed. For stores with more than 2,000 square meters and shopping measures, new measures are being introduced that include organized transportation of customers and the introduction of stewards who will prevent the entry of too many customers, obligations to remove or disable seating in common areas of shopping centers and remove or disable entertainment devices. The obligation to warn customers is also being introduced, and the competent civil protection service will have to be given information on the ventilation system," said Bozinovic.

"Representatives of stores will certainly do everything to ensure that these measures are respected, because if not, then there is the part concerning sanctions, which we are trying to avoid. It is in everyone’s interest here to engage to the maximum. And that figure determined by the size of the space is appropriate to the situation, not only epidemiological but also the average number of store entries during the epidemic. If citizens see that the queues are large, they may give up or go to another store. We cannot prescribe all life situations. This is a rational decision to keep such an important activity open," Bozinovic added.

"We will make this decision during the day; it will be valid until January 10, so we plan to keep stores and shopping centers open until then. This is now a special decision for stores, and we anticipate that they will work safely until January 10. No one can say whether there will be any sudden deterioration or improvement, but keeping in mind all the elements and assessments, we made this decision," Bozinovic concluded.

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

 

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Capak Hints at Possible Shopping Center Closures in Croatia, Comments on Pfizer Vaccine

December 3, 2020 - In a morning television interview with N1, Croatian Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak hints at possible shopping center closures in Croatia. 

Index.hr reports that the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, was a guest this morning on the N1 television program, where he spoke about COVID-19 measures in Croatia, among other things, like the Pfizer vaccine.

"As part of the joint procurement, the EU signed contracts with six manufacturers, later came the seventh. Pfizer was our third negotiator, we ordered a million doses. It should come as soon as the vaccine is registered. The European Agency will announce its decision no later than December 29," says Capak.

"We don't know at what time the other 125,000 doses will come. We'd better vaccinate 62,000 people and then re-vaccinate those 62,000 with another dose because it's under contract. Health workers who come into contact with patients are a priority," Capak says.

"We will get Oxford and AstraZeneca as a priority. According to the promises, we will get complete tranches in May and June, then we could vaccinate the entire population over the age of 18," he said.

"We manage to vaccinate very quickly; the flu in a week or two. I can vaccinate healthcare workers with a license, under the supervision of a doctor," he said.

Capak spoke about doing surveys for vaccinations in healthcare facilities.

"We have found that there are a lot of unknowns about vaccines and vaccinations. We will give all media a list of priorities and information on what will be done and how it will be done," he said.

Capak was asked about the measures.

"Our goal is to reduce contacts. You will admit that the situation is difficult for us. What can we do? We can increase testing, we do that, but we also have to reduce close contact because it spreads the virus. Cafes are closed to reduce contacts, because they spread the virus," he said.

What about shopping malls?

"As for them, we have determined measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Should they be closed or not? At the moment we have not brought it to the table, but it is possible to close shopping centers. Some European countries closed them," he said.

"As far as compliance with the measures is concerned, the Headquarters continuously appeals to the citizens to protect themselves and others. By adhering to the measures, we protect others and the vulnerable. There will be the possibility of fines for those who don't comply, and the law is in parliament," says Capak.

"The measures should be a balance between health care and the economy," Capak says.

“I think the measures are effective to reduce contact among citizens, to keep the numbers down,” he adds.

He says that if the situation worsens, the epidemiologists will propose additional measures. He also spoke about the direction of the new measures 

"In the direction of further reducing contacts in public transport, in shopping malls, in shops..." he said.

When asked about churches, he said that a horizontal measure of 25 people had been passed.

"It is possible to correct that, it is not the same whether it is in the cathedral or the chapel. The government has made a decision and so far it is so," he said.

When asked who in Croatia deals with calculations and projection models, he said that a working group deals with governments, but he did not want to say who is in it, only that there are two people from the CNIPH included.

Regarding the exact number of deaths from COVID-19 in Croatia, Capak says that there are defined rules and that it is considered that those who are COVID-19 positive died from COVID-19 and there is no other clear cause of death.

He confirmed that autopsies are generally not performed, as is the WHO's instruction, but that only a few of those autopsies were performed when the court ordered it to determine the exact cause of death.

He said that those who died in homes for the elderly are also listed in the statistics, but when asked why only the deceased in hospitals are always written in the statistics published by the Headquarters daily, he said that he had to check.

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

 

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