Thursday, 22 July 2021

New Rules for Weddings and Events on the Croatian Coast in Effort to Save Season

July 22, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović announced that new restrictive measures would be introduced on Monday, applying to the "orange" Adriatic Coast and that EU digital Covid certificates would be a criterion for participating in events on the Croatian coast. 

"They will refer to the Croatian Adriatic according to NUTS regions, that is, the part that is currently in orange and where the incidence is growing, although not as in other countries in the Mediterranean. Croatia is holding up well compared to others. However, the numbers are growing, and we have to do something to prevent at least some events from turning into super-spreaders," Božinović told Dnevnik Nova TV, as reported by Index.hr.

He explained that all gatherings of more than 50 to 1,000 people would have to be organized so that local headquarters and county headquarters take responsibility for their organization, while the EU digital Covid certificate is a criterion for entering the event.

“I am sure, if this is respected, that we can practically continue normally this summer, but under control,” he pointed out.

As for the numerous festivities and fairs held throughout the Adriatic, which bring together many people, Božinović explained that the point is to register these festivities and local headquarters with county officials to decide whether they can control them and whether they will let it happen. If the two headquarters do not agree and there have been such cases, then the National Civil Protection Headquarters will decide.

Božinović said that it is in the country's interest for as many tourists as possible to come to Croatia and create conditions so that they feel safe and so that the infection does not spread too much.

In addition, he stated that weddings also have their own epidemiological framework.

"Anything over 15, now it will be practically unlimited in Dalmatia, but weddings can be 200, 300 people at most. So a Covid passport is a high guarantee that everything will go well," said Božinović.

He also commented on sports competitions, stating that they will allow spectators to come with Covid certificates. He added that these measures should take effect on Monday.

Stricter conditions for British tourists

In addition, it was announced today that British tourists would have more difficulty entering Croatia.

All Britons, Russians, and Cypriots must have a negative test to cross the Croatian border, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or have contracted the virus.

As far as tourism is concerned, this could have the greatest impact on the expected increased arrival of the British on the Adriatic. As a reminder, practically all measures have been lifted for them since Monday, making it easier for them to travel. Meanwhile, Portugal and Spain, the traditional destinations of British tourists, have ended up on the red epidemiological list, making entry into those countries difficult, and several measures have been introduced. Therefore, a significant number of Britons are expected to come to the Adriatic. In Britain, the Delta strain has spread significantly in recent weeks, despite high vaccination coverage, especially among young people. Therefore, there is a danger that the number of infected people in Croatia will increase, which would negatively affect the tourist season.

For these reasons, all Britons, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, will need to show a negative PCR test.

The CNIPH published the news, which is transmitted in its entirety below.

"To protect health and prevent the spread of COVID-19, additional epidemiological measures have been introduced, which are applied when crossing the border into the territory of the Republic of Croatia to prevent the introduction of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Furthermore, due to the above, there was a quarantine obligation for arrivals from the Republic of South Africa, Brazil, Zanzibar, and India for a period of 14 days, which a negative PCR test can shorten after 7 days.

Since the Delta strain was imported from India, it has now become dominant in the European Union. The list of countries for which quarantine is mandatory remains the Republic of South Africa, Brazil, and Zanzibar. For persons coming from India, the mandatory quarantine after crossing the border is abolished. Instead, the obligation to present a negative test result on SARS-CoV-2 is introduced within 48 hours when crossing the border if it is a rapid antigen test or within 72 hours if it is a PCR test, regardless of whether the person has contracted COVID-19 or has been vaccinated.

Due to the worse epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom, Cyprus, and the Russian Federation, as an additional measure for all persons coming from these countries, a negative SARS-CoV-2 test performed in the home country, regardless of vaccination status or recovery from COVID-19, is required before entering the territory of the Republic of Croatia.

The change will be published on the CNIPH website and will take effect on Monday, July 26, 2021," the CNIPH said.

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

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Božinović Talks HDZ, Tourist Season, Assistance to Czechia

ZAGREB, 26 June 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said in Glina on Saturday that the HDZ, notably under Andrej Plenković's leadership, was winning despite all criticisms, not just from President Zoran Milanović, because citizens saw that the HDZ solved problems.

Responding to questions from the press, Božinović denied that there would be a constitutional crisis after parliament yesterday rejected Milanović's candidate for the Supreme Court president, Zlata Đurđević, saying that a third call for applications would probably be advertised.

Asked to comment on Milanović's claim following the rejection of Đurđević that the HDZ "is destroying" the state and the constitution, Božinović said the HDZ was winning despite all criticisms and enjoying the strongest public support because most citizens saw that the HDZ-led government was solving problems in very complex circumstances.

Success of tourist season depends on our responsibility

Speaking of the tourist season, Božinović said its success depended on people's responsibility in complying with COVID-19 measures.

Asked if night clubs would be closed this summer, he said those outdoors would be able to operate if customers were either vaccinated, tested or had recovered from the virus.

Solidarity with Czech Republic

Asked if the government had discussed helping the Czech Republic after a recent tornado, Božinović said the Interior Ministry and the Civil Protection Directorate immediately offered assistance to their Czech colleagues, "who informed us that at the moment assistance is not needed."

He said they were constantly in touch. "If anyone understands our friends in the Czech Republic, it's us in Croatia, and we know what the response was in the Czech Republic and the EU as a whole to what happened to us in Banovina and Zagreb," he said, referring to last year's devastating earthquakes.

Solidarity and the spirit of a common response to crises is becoming stronger in EU, he said, adding that recently emphasis was on bilateral cooperation, which he said would be cultivated in future as well.

"But for the system at European level to be as effective as possible, given that climate change will cause more and more such situations across the world and Europe, capacities must be joined for a rapid, effective and solidary response to such challenges and threats," Božinović said.

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

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Davor Bozinovic Talks Croatian Covid Certificate, Dodges Pressing Issue

June the 10th, 2021 - There has been a lot of conversation surrounding the controversial so-called ''covid passports'', which Croatia has already introduced. Of course, in true Croatian fashion, the Croatian covid certificate has been plagued (no pun intended) with issues from the very beginning.

The rules appear simple if you want to get your hands on a Croatian covid certificate. You either have to have been vaccinated, have proof of having recovered from the disease, or have a negative PCR test result proving you aren't hosting the novel virus. Easy, right? No. Not at all.

Many people who have previously contracted and then recovered from the disease, including myself, are unable to get their Croatian covid certificate approved. Many people had absolutely no idea they had the disease, either having only very mild symptoms or being asymptomatic, and as such never sought medical attention, testing, or proof of them being infected. The number of people who have actually been infected is more than likely far higher than official records suggest. This poses a massive problem and despite Croatia's attempts to ''avoid discrimination'' - this is precisely what this is.

As a result of numerous complaints, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic has decided to speak out about the Croatian covid certificate, claiming that all is working well, much to the frustration of very many people who are entitled to the document, but can't get it.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Bozinovic announced on social media that the Croatian system for issuing the EU digital COVID certificate, also referred to in this article as the Croatian covid certificate, has confirmed its full functionality and interoperability. Many would disagree.

"More than 100,000 people managed to have their certificates approved in just seven days," wrote Bozinovic, who said the certificate was eligible for 1.7 million people, who had either been vaccinated or had contracted the disease and since recovered.

The problem of those who overcame the disease, but didn't confirm that with by taking a PCR test, however, still remains an enormous problem, writes RTL vijesti/news. This is a huge issue which it seems nobody even thought about when coming up with this idea, which honestly seems incredibly shortsighted.

By the way, the European Parliament has adopted regulations on its digital certificate which will be applied at the level of the entire bloc from the 1st of July. The certificate will be issued free of charge by the national authorities and will be available in either digital and paper form and will contain a QR code.

The document will serve as confirmation that the person has been vaccinated, has a new negative test result, or has overcome the disease. In practice, these will be three different confirmations. The EU Common Framework will ensure the interoperability and verifiability of certificates throughout the Union and prevent their forgery and fraud.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Interior Minister Davor Božinović: Clear Link Between Croatia's Schengen Membership And EU Security

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - The Strategy for the Schengen Area for the first time clearly articulates the link between Croatia's membership of the Schengen Area and the EU's security, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

“The debate today on the Strategy for the Schengen Area is especially significant for us because for the first time it has identified a clear link between Croatia's membership of the Schengen Area and security for the EU as a whole," Božinović said ahead of a meeting of the EU's Home Affairs Council.

The interior ministers of EU member states met in Luxembourg on Tuesday for an initial discussion on the Schengen strategy that was presented by the European Commission last week. The agenda also includes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the fight against organised crime, the internal security outlook in terms of artificial intelligence, cooperation in the fight against terrorism and exchanging opinions on the current status in the discussion on the new migration and asylum pact.

Last week the Commission presented the strategy towards a "stronger and more resilient" Schengen Area, which includes enlargement to EU member states that are still not part of the area, and called for Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania to be admitted into the Schengen Area as they had met the technical criteria for the application of the Schengen acquis. 

Božinović said that it was becoming more and more clear that Europe's security was not the sum of security capacities of member states but that it was cooperation, interoperability and solidarity.

"These are the principles that Croatia has insisted upon in European forums for years," said Božinović.

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

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Interior Minister Davor Božinović : Croatia's Schengen membership in interest of EU

ZAGREB, 2 June, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that Croatia's entry to the passport-free Schengen Area was in the national interest as well as in the interest of the European Union.

Earlier on Wednesday the European Commission called for the enlargement of the Schengen area to include Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, which have met all technical criteria for membership.

"Schengen's future must be marked by the expansion to those EU Member States that are not yet part of the Schengen area," the EC said while presenting the strategy for making the Schengen area stronger and more resilient.

Božinović recalled that Croatia had met 281 requirements in eight different segments concerning the membership criteria.

The minister is confident that Croatia will be admitted to the Schengen area in the next 12 months.

He said that he was glad to see that in Europe awareness was being raised about the importance of accession of Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

40,000 EU Digital COVID certificates issued in Croatia since first day of issuance

Since yesterday, when the issuance of EU Digital COVID certificates started in Croatia, as many as 40,000 such travel passes have been issued.

Božinović said that Croatia was among the first EU countries to make this system operational.

The minister, who visited the Bregana border crossing to get acquainted with the functioning of the system of checking those certificates, said that it took only 10 seconds to check those certificates.

One million kuna has been invested in this project, which included IT solutions, the necessary equipment of border crossings to be able to read the codes from the certificates, and other equipment for the Croatian Health Insurance Agency (HZZO), he said.

Croatia tapped EU funds for this purpose, Božinović said at Bregana.

ENTER Croatia application available to people travelling to Croatia

The minister said that people traveling to Croatia can fill in the ENTER Croatia application which will also facilitate passage across the border.

New, relaxed rules for arrivals in Croatia

As of today, some relaxed rules go into force for arrivals in Croatia, including a negative PCR test for coronavirus not older than 72 hours, while travellers who have received at least one vaccine dose at least 22 days before their arrival do not need to self-isolate.

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

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Remaining Mine-Infested Areas to be Cleared of Mines By Mid-2026

ZAGREB, 25 May, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Tuesday that until the spring of 2026 the remaining 250 square kilometres of land believed to be infested with landmines left over from the 1991-1995 Homeland War would be cleared of those explosive devices.

Božinović commented on the plan for a mine-free Croatia at a ceremony in the town of Josipdol, where he presented a HRK 241 million project, Karlovac KARST, for the removal of mines from forests in the areas of Karlovac and Josipdol.

The implementation of the project will create prospects for job creation in the region, he added.

Karlovac County Prefect Martina Furdek Hajdin said that HRK 188 million had been absorbed from the European Union for the Karlovac KARST project.

In the next few years, 17.1 square metres of forest land in Tounj, Josipdol, Plaški, Saborsko and Rakovica will be cleared of landmines, she added.

The county prefect added that Karlovac County had already tapped HRK 29 million from the EU funds to remove landmines from 3.8 square-metre-large farmland.

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

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Bozinovic Discusses Digital Green Certificates for Travel During Pandemic

May the 9th, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic has discussed the controversial new ''covid passports'' which he insists are not passports and must not be referred to as that, despite it being both easier to remember and easier to say. Could Croatia's digital green certificates be ready by next month?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Bozinovic stated that ''they aren't passports, let's not call get into the habit of calling them that, maybe it's easier to say that these are digital green certificates that refer to facilitating international travel. They will be interoperable, and they'll allow mutual recognition of vaccination, recovery and testing certificates.

By a majority vote, European Union lawmakers backed the digital green certificates proposal, Bozinovic noted, adding that the final proposal has yet to be adopted, and that it will likely happen in the first half of June.

"Croatia is in the advanced stage of implementing a national technical solution and we're ready to test it on the available European Union platform. Particular emphasis should be placed on the importance of databases, the accuracy and entry of all data as certificates will be issued based on the databases of people who have already recovered from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, those who have been tested in the last 48 hours and people who've been vaccinated.

We're in favour of the adoption of these regulations as soon as possible. With out participation in the pilot project, we've become one of the EU member states that will be ready to issue certificates as early as June the 1st. In Croatia, these certificates will be issued in digital PDF format, and people will be able to submit their applications through the e-citizens system. Certificates in physical form for people who request them will be issued in some of the 150 HZZO offices. The verification of these certificates will be carried out by reading QR codes, and 250 certificate readers have already been deployed at the country's border crossings,'' pointed out Bozinovic.

The entercroatia.mup.hr portal will provide announcements for the arrival of foreign nationals, which will shorten the time spent at Croatian borders. Passengers will be able download their receipts for their digital green certificates in PDF format on the aforementioned page before their arrival for the purpose of verification as soon as possible.

For more on coronavirus in Croatia, from border, travel and quarantine rules to the locations of vaccination points and testing sites across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Health Minister Vili Beroš Says 230,000 Vaccine Doses to Arrive Weekly As of May

ZAGREB, 22 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said at a government session on Thursday that as of 1 May, 230,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be arriving in Croatia on a weekly basis, calling on citizens to register for vaccination.

"The pressure on hospitals has been growing, notably by younger patients. The number of hospitalisations and patients on ventilators continues to grow. The average age of hospitalised patients is 66.7, 15% are people under the age of 50, 15% are people aged 50-59 while the rest are people above 60," said Beroš.

Third vaccination phase to start soon

The minister noted that the arrival of a larger quantity of vaccines during May and June would facilitate the process of vaccination.

Public health institutes have been instructed to include in the vaccination process all health institutions and private medical workers in the public health service network, and to organise, along with vaccination in family medicine offices, mobile vaccination teams and a sufficient number of vaccination points as well as to use civil protection, army and other resources in the process.

The vaccination plan for priority groups will be finished next week and the third phase of vaccination will begin, Beroš said.

So far, 902,670 vaccine doses have arrived in Croatia and 80% of them have been administered. A vaccination rate of above the average 14.2% has been achieved in age groups above 60, he said.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković called on elderly people to register for vaccination, saying that a half of the country's adult population should be vaccinated by June 30.

"There will be enough vaccines, I call on all citizens to call their family doctors, register on the vaccination platform so that we can contribute together to health security," Plenković said.

"As many as 77% of people who have died of COVID-19 in Croatia since the start of the pandemic were aged above 70 and 93% were people older than 60. We call on all citizens who are above the age of 60, 70 to register for vaccination," the PM said.

The head of the national coronavirus crisis management team, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, said that there had been no changes to epidemiological restrictions at the national level, that existing restrictions had been extended, as had been most of those introduced by local crisis management teams.

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

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Croatia to Extend Current Epidemiological Restrictions

ZAGREB, 15 April, 2021 - The head of the national COVID response team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said on Thursday that the epidemiological measures in force until midnight tonight would be extended, underscoring that the restrictions would not be tightened at the national level, but as necessary from county to county.

Speaking to the press after a meeting of the government's Scientific Advisory Council, Božinović said that meeting mostly focused on the current situation with the spread of coronavirus.

County response teams, he added, will adopt stricter measures depending on the epidemiological situation which at the moment will not be ramped up at the national level.

He said that the situation varies from county to county, adding that currently Primorje-Gorski Kotar has the strictest measures.

Vaccines no longer doubtful in Croatia 

Božinović announced that an additional 50 million doses of vaccines were arriving in the EU in the second quarter and he expressed hope that the number of doses for Croatia would not be brought into question.

He added that the experts had different opinions regarding school lessons but there is no reason now to change the decision for schools to go online as the number of those infected is not falling but actually increasing.

Asked what number would be required to ramp up restrictions according to the experts, Božinović said that some countries that introduced so-called traffic lights had tied their own hands in some situations.

"We are referring to trends here. We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and applying measures on a county to county basis. I think that we won't refrain from that approach as it has shown to be correct so far," he underscored.

Croatia has not registered the experiences with AstraZeneca's vaccination like in other countries

As far as mistrust towards the AstraZeneca vaccine is concerned, Božinović said that reports by the HALMED medical agency and the Croatian Institute for Public Health "have not had any experiences that are being referred to in other countries."

However, it will be necessary to improve the trust in that vaccine through communication with the public, recalling that government members, including the Prime Minister, were inoculated with that vaccine.

"It is important for the overall public to realise that the pandemic has affected all four corners of the earth and that we will come out of this situation when an adequate solution is applied in all the countries affected by COVID," Božinović underlined, adding that it was important for the vaccine to be available everywhere.

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

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

New Coronavirus Restrictions to be in Force Until 15 April

ZAGREB, 31 March, 2021 - The national coronavirus crisis management team on Wednesday announced new epidemiological restrictions to be in force until 15 April, including a ban on indoor training, restrictions on the work of children playrooms and a temporary ban and restriction of cross-border travel.

The ban on indoor training does not apply to top competitions and athletes.

Certificates of vaccination with Russian, Chinese vaccines valid

Croatian border authorities will accept fast antigen tests as well as certificates about vaccination with the Russian and Chinese vaccines, and certificates proving their holders' recovery from COVID-19 and those certificates will be considered valid for 180 days, the team's head, Davor Božinović, said.

Border crossing has been regulated due to tourist visits, the exception being digital nomads and children.

"Considering restrictions in neighbouring countries, we do not expect a large number of arrivals," said Božinović.

He noted that the tighter restrictions were being introduced following a proposal to that effect by county COVID-19 response teams.

Apart from nationwide restrictions, the national team also made decisions on restrictions for Šibenik-Knin and Split-Dalmatia counties.

In Split-Dalmatia County, which has seen a big increase in new infections, the mandatory wearing of face masks at outdoor venues with an increased flow of people will be introduced, as will a ban on the sale of alcohol from 8pm to 6am. The work of cafes will be restricted until 8pm, and it will be possible to serve food and drinks only in the open. Foreign language schools will switch to online classes again.

Božinović said that restrictions could be additionally tightened since the epidemiological situation was not good.

Restrictions to be tightened if number of infections continues to grow

"We have a significant increase today and we cannot ignore the possibility of the scenario in neighbouring countries happening here as well. These restrictions will be in force for a few days but should statistics be worrying, we will introduce new measures," said Božinović.

The latest restrictions go into force on Thursday and will be in force until 15 April.

In the last 24 hours, 2,623 new coronavirus cases and 19 COVID-related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national coronavirus response team said earlier in the day.

The number of active cases now stands at 11,306. Among them are 1,337 people receiving hospital treatment, of whom 144 are placed on ventilators.

Croatian Public Health Institute head Krunoslav Capak warned that today the number of new infections was 47% higher than last week.

Istria County has the lowest incidence, while Primorje-Gorski Kotar County has the highest. Croatia is currently 18th in the EU in terms of the number of deaths per one million inhabitants, while in terms of the 14-day incidence it is 12th.

Speaking about the start of the third phase of vaccination, Capak said that care would be taken of the order in which people had registered for vaccination at the cijepi.se online platform.

"All people older than 16 can be inoculated in the third phase, but a certain priority will be given to people in services in which they come into contact with a large number of people," he said, adding that the third phase could start in May.

He noted that cases of infection with coronavirus after vaccination had been reported. "We have about 20 such cases. Forty-four people in aged care homes got infected after receiving the first dose and 22 got infected after the second dose, but the symptoms were mild."

Commenting on an announcement by the Zagreb COVID-19 response team about the wearing of face masks outdoors, Capak said: "If you are outdoors and alone, there is no need to wear a mask."

"Outdoor mask wearing refers to places where there are a lot of people, in the farmers' market, on the waterfront," he said, noting that the recommendation to wear a mask outdoors had been in force so far for places where physical distancing was not possible.

For more about Covid-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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