Monday, 30 November 2020

Croatian Government Agreed on Fines for Violating Measures, Awaiting Parliament Confirmation

November 30, 2020 - At today's government session, which Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic led from home in self-isolation, the fines for violating measures in Croatia were announced. They have yet to be confirmed by parliament. reports that Minister Beros read the proposal of new fines. Thus, a natural person can be fined HRK 500 for non-compliance with the prescribed measures, i.e. the obligation to properly wear a face mask or medical mask.

A fine of HRK 5,000 to 10,000 is prescribed for the owner of private property if they organize or allow a private gathering against the provisions of the law.

Bozinovic also announced new measures at the borders, and Maric, Aladrovic, and Coric presented new measures to help entrepreneurs.

In the beginning, Plenkovic expressed regret over the incident in Vukovar.

"As for the pandemic, the numbers are still high today. Unfortunately, 74 people have died, the most so far, due to the high numbers in recent weeks. We are still in a very serious phase of the epidemic, I call everyone to be responsible, so we have taken restrictive measures," he said.

He then said he would discuss amending the Infectious Diseases Protection Act so that fines for individuals could be defined.

"We have based our fight against coronavirus on trust between citizens and the state. We are convinced that most fellow citizens understand the circumstances, but we also think that such a tool is necessary given that certain irresponsible individuals endanger the health of others. That is why we will propose changes to the law to the parliament," said Plenkovic, who chaired the government session via a video link from self-isolation.

Furthermore, Plenkovic revealed details of new measures for entrepreneurs.

"The new package of measures to help the part of the economy whose activities have been suspended because of COVID-19 will amount to HRK 2.1 billion, and will include subsidies for salaries, fixed costs and COVID loans," said Plenkovic.

These measures, he said, are in line with the policy of preserving jobs in the private sector. He claimed that the government has so far preserved 630,000 jobs and helped 107,000 companies, paying a total of HRK 7.4 billion.

He announced the continuation of support of HRK 4,000 for workers' salaries during the suspension of operations, with the exemption from paying contributions. This is a total net amount of HRK 320 million, and when the contributions are added up, it is HRK 470 million.

The government will also cover part or all of the fixed costs during the suspension of the sectors affected by the measures, if their turnover in December falls by at least 60 percent compared to last December. According to government estimates, the measure should cost HRK 250 million. In addition, he added, in cooperation with HAMAG-BICRO, a new package of COVID loans was prepared in the total amount of HRK 1.3 billion.

"We base our support for the private sector on these three points, i.e., those affected by the anti-epidemic measures currently in force. All in all, the package will amount to HRK 2.1 billion," Plenkovic said.

"In this way, the government meets the needs of the economy, entrepreneurs and employees and strives, as before, to help citizens, the economy and entrepreneurs in the very specific year of 2020," he added.

Minister Beros read the statistics on the number infected.

"The Ministry of Health called on the Headquarters to submit amended plans for the care of people suffering from COVID-19, as well as a notification on additional care," Beros said.

“Everything we do will not yield results if the personal responsibility of each individual remains,” he said, adding that the HQ’s measures are there for a reason.

Bozinovic reiterated the latest measures taken this weekend.

"As far as supervision is concerned, inspectors and the police have made over 4,000 inspections, they have issued 605 warnings. Forty-four misdemeanor orders have been or will be submitted," Bozinovic read.

"A new decision has been made on border crossings, and it is tied to European regions. Passengers coming from EU green areas do not need a PCR test or any other condition to enter Croatia. All others need a negative PCR test that is not older than 48 hours or are tested on arrival in Croatia and in self-isolation to await the test result.

But at the moment, the only green region in the EU is the island of Fasta in Finland," Bozinovic said.

“As for third-country nationals, they can cross the border with a negative PCR test,” he said. "EU citizens coming from third countries can enter Croatia with a negative PCR test," Bozinovic added.

Entry without a negative PCR test for EU citizens is allowed, for example, for seafarers and workers in the transport sector, transport providers, diplomats, staff of international organizations, persons traveling for urgent reasons, passengers in transit with the obligation to leave the country within 12 hours and patients traveling for necessary health reasons.

Border health workers, pupils, students and interns who travel every day do not have to have a negative PCR test, provided that they do not stay inside or outside Croatia for more than 12 hours.

Beros continued on fines for violating the measures.

"The bill prescribes a new security measure of the obligation to wear a face mask or medical mask properly, a ban or restriction on holding public events and gatherings, and a ban or restriction on holding private gatherings," Beros said at the government session.

The amendment to the law points out that according to the current course of COVID-19, the need to properly wear face masks or medical masks so as to cover the mouth and nose is unequivocally indicated, which reduces the possible risk of transmission. Proper use of masks is most important when people are indoors and when social distancing is difficult to implement or maintain.

The bill stipulates that the implementation of supervision over the application of safety measures for the protection of the population from infectious diseases is also carried out by police officers, inspectors of state administration bodies responsible for civil protection, inspectors of the State Inspectorate and inspectors of other state administration bodies.

Also, a fine for misdemeanors is prescribed for legal entities in the amount of HRK 10,000 to HRK 40,000 in case of non-compliance with measures prescribed by law, i.e., if they do not respect the ban or restriction on holding public events and gatherings or disrespect the ban or restriction on private gatherings.

A fine of HRK 5,000 to 10,000 is prescribed for misdemeanors of a responsible person in a legal entity, as well as craftspeople and natural persons who perform other independent activities.

For a misdemeanor of a natural person, a fine of HRK 500 is prescribed in case of non-compliance with the prescribed measures, or the obligation to properly wear a face mask or medical mask.

A fine of HRK 5,000 to 10,000 is prescribed for the private property owner if they organize or allow a private gathering against the provisions of the law.

Also, the provision on collecting fines at the place where the misdemeanor was committed is changed in accordance with the provisions of the Misdemeanor Law. Thus, the fine may be collected at the place where the offense was committed by a person authorized to supervise the implementation of safety measures to protect the population from infectious diseases.

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

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Plenkovic on New COVID-19 Measures in Croatia: We Won't Celebrate Christmas as Before

November 28, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic addressed Croatian citizens on Friday night before the new COVID-19 measures in Croatia came into force.

Just before the new and stricter epidemiological measures took effect in Croatia, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic addressed the citizens.

"The coronavirus pandemic that has affected the whole world has changed our way of life. With the arrival of autumn, the pandemic has accelerated. As elsewhere in Europe, we have gradually tightened measures. We are fighting against the virus on the basis of trust between the citizens and the state. With the measures taken so far, we have tried to avoid a complete closure and curfew," the Prime Minister said.

"As of midnight new, stricter measures will take effect. They aim to protect health, save lives, and reduce the burden on the health system. We need to be re-aware of the dangers posed by this virus. One in nine hospitalized is sadly dying. New measures will be effective until December 21, and perhaps longer.

I understand the dissatisfaction of all those who will suspend their business due to the epidemiological situation. I remind you that we have so far adopted measures to save jobs and many companies. The new measures will ensure that the livelihoods of many are not endangered. During the suspension of work, in addition to the exemption from paying contributions, we will also provide new Covid loans.

We will also adopt new measures for all those who have a temporary suspension. In the years ahead, we will use European funds to accelerate the recovery of our economy.

We are reluctantly changing the law so that we can punish violations of measures. We must do this to protect those responsible from irresponsible individuals. If even a small number of those gathered do not adhere to the measures, the infection will continue to spread.

Dear fellow citizens, I am sure you are following the progress in vaccines. The government has taken all steps to ensure a sufficient number of doses for Croats. A vaccination plan has already been made. I would like to once again express my gratitude to all health professionals who are at the forefront of virus protection and who are up to the task. We must show solidarity with them through responsible behavior. 

This year we will not be able to celebrate Christmas as before. Let’s show that we can give up old habits and socializing that is unnecessary. In these times of sacrifice, our priorities are health, jobs, production, and education. By protecting each other, we will win together," said Plenkovic.

Translated from Slobodna Dalmacija 

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

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Bars and Restaurants in Croatia Likely Closing Until Christmas Eve

November 25, 2020 - New measures for bars and restaurants in Croatia are likely to come into force from midnight on Saturday, November 28, and should last until Christmas Eve.

UPDATE: confirmed on Thursday evening that these measures are final and will be announced by the Headquarters on Thursday. 

A meeting of the Chief of the National Headquarters and Interior Minister Davor Božinovic was held with the prefects.

As finds out, the final decision has been made to close all cafes and restaurants. The new strict measures should take effect at midnight, the beginning of November 28, and should last until Christmas Eve.

“The argument is that they are turning into disco clubs,” one of the meeting participants told Index.

According to Index, wedding ceremonies are temporarily suspended, and fitness centers, according to the latest information, remain open, but they must provide 10 square meters per user.

It was also confirmed that shops and shopping centers will continue to operate, but supervision will be intensified to ensure that the number of customers in them is in line with the prescribed number per square meter.

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A meeting of ministers on the new measures lasted through Wednesday afternoon, and while nothing is finalized yet, gave us a closer look at what we can expect. 

Thus, there could be a complete closure of cafes, while restaurants and bakeries will remain open for delivery only.

Food delivery would be possible, until 10 pm, and the ban on the sale of alcohol from 10 pm to 6 am will not change.

Hotels should remain open, and their restaurants will be able to work, but only for hotel guests.

If the number of new cases begins to drop and the measures prove successful, then bars, cafes, and restaurants would reopen on Christmas Eve. 

Shops would work as before, but there would be a stronger control over whether their capacity follows the prescribed measure per square meter. Craftspeople would continue to work, so hairdressing salons and other beauty salons and shopping centers would remain open, while cinemas would close.

The new set of measures would also reduce the number of passengers in public transport, and epidemiologists advocate that it be about 25 percent of the total capacity of public transport. 

Although epidemiologists are advocating the closure of gyms, it is not yet certain that this will happen, since gyms have been mostly empty.

As far as schools are concerned, for now, teaching would not be completely switched to online but will continue to be done in schools. High schools could partially transition to online teaching, and colleges are mostly already working that way.

The Headquarters would not introduce travel restrictions from county to county as they did during the first lockdown.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic addressed the media on Wednesday, as reported by Jutarnji List.

"We'll talk about measures tomorrow. Minister Božinović is currently consulting with the counties," he said when asked about the details of the new epidemiological measures that will be introduced.

"The measures will last until before Christmas. It's not that far. If epidemiologists ask, they could take longer," he said.

"We have shown throughout the crisis that we care about entrepreneurship. We will find and strive to find solutions," he added.

When asked if the state has the money for that, he answered: "It will."

Plenkovic did not want to explain the details, and only repeated that everything would be discussed on Thursday.

He commented on the fact that the measures are being introduced, although less than a week has passed since the new measures were introduced.

"We are considering the situation all the time. I said then that we should introduce measures and monitor the situation and consider the introduction of new measures," Plenkovic concluded.

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

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