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.


Thursday, 17 December 2020

Draft of New Measures in Croatia: Reintroduction of Passes, Max Gathering of 2 Households

December 17, 2020 – As first reports, a draft of new measures in Croatia has been prepared, according to which all current measures should be extended, with several new restrictive measures. The new measures will be officially announced tomorrow, announced Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The Civil Protection Headquarters and the Government of the Republic of Croatia are currently working on the final details of the new, stricter measures that will be in force in Croatia after December 21, 2020. The draft of the new measures, which would be valid from Tuesday, December 22, includes the introduction of passes and a ban on gathering people from more than two households.

Reduction in the number of people at gatherings

New measures will prohibit leaving the place of permanent residence, which would mean the return of passes. Another restrictive measure, which, as Index reports, is a ban on gathering people from more than two households. This provision will certainly remain in the final decision on the measures, but it is not yet entirely sure in what form. Namely, there are proposals to limit gatherings to one household, but for now, it is a more likely option with two households.

The ban on cafes will remain in force, and restaurants will remain closed to guests. Cinemas and theaters will not close; neither will hairdressers and other salons. The headquarters believe that cinemas and theaters currently pose a minimal risk because they do not have many visits. Salons also remain open with the explanation that they do not pose a significant risk given the number of people in them at the same time, wearing masks and adhering to other measures.

Shops and shopping centers are regulated by another decision, which further limits the number of people inside. It is valid until January 10, and there will be no change.

An additional reduction in the number of people at gatherings is considered. However, in the ongoing conversations, the question was asked how much it makes sense because the numbers are still minimal. Gatherings take place in private spaces where the possibility of control is limited.

'The chances of introducing passes are about 70 percent'

The passes have already been included in the draft, and if there is no reversal today, this measure will also be in force after December 21, 2020. As Index learns from a reliable source, the movement restriction will apply between counties, and the City of Zagreb and Zagreb County will again be one unit, as was the case at the end of the lockdown in the first wave.

Due to the large number of passes issued in the first wave, more than a million of them, it is considered that inter-county movement should be allowed only to employees of services who need it and in rare exceptional cases.

It is also possible that a particular decision on passes, for this reason, will not be formalized immediately on Friday, but subsequently, during the weekend, when all the rules that will apply to passes would be defined.

"It will take us another six months to get all the vaccines and to vaccinate enough of the population. If we do not adhere to the measures, it is necessary to introduce formal restrictions, although there is no success in the measures without personal engagement. New measures are currently being prepared. The goal is to do everything to spend the holiday season in the most peaceful way possible. We are now fighting in terms of the clinical picture for a better January. It is necessary to reduce mobility," said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković at today's government session.

Cafes and restaurants closed until further notice

"It seems to me that the chances of introducing a ban on leaving the permanent residence, or the introduction of passes, are about 70 percent at the moment. It is tragic that some people probably think that someone's goal is to make Christmas and the holidays bitter. Restricting movement is something we are reluctant to think about, but we expect it to reduce contact, which is extremely important to us this holiday season. Otherwise, there will be a tough situation after the holidays, despite some positive developments in recent days. Something must be done to prevent the spread of the infection for the holidays. Unfortunately, the introduction of such measures is necessary because of the small number of people who do not want to abide by the appeal and the simple measures we have to endure until the end of the epidemic, which is getting closer," a well-informed interlocutor told Index.

The new measures should be valid until January 8, 2021, when passes will be abolished. Still, most other measures would be extended for another two weeks to see what consequences the holiday gatherings will have on the numbers of newly infected and consequently dead.

According to the Index's information, among the measures that would be extended beyond January 8 is the ban on working in cafes and serving guests in restaurants until further notice.

"The infection cannot spread if we do not socialize and meet others, and we do not adhere to that enough. We must give our contribution. If that were the case, we could relax the measures," Plenković said.

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

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Capak: New Measures to be Combined with Wide Use of Rapid Antigen Tests

ZAGREB, November 26, 2020 - Croatian Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak said on Thursday that the latest restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak would be combined with the wide use of rapid antigen tests and that this was expected to result in a fall in new coronavirus cases over the next four weeks.

"Right now our epidemiological situation is concerning. Epidemiologists have made their suggestions about individual measures and their effectiveness. The most important thing is to reduce the intensity of social contacts and keep the mobility of people as low as possible," Capak said at the presentation of the latest package of measures.

Croatia's incidence rate among highest in Europe

Capak said he believed the latest measures, combined with rapid antigen tests and self-isolation, would help reverse the present trend over the next four weeks and ensure that the number of new infections started falling.

"Our incidence rate is currently among the highest in Europe, above 900 cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days. We have the 13th highest mortality rate in the European Union. The number of hospitalisations and the number of people on ventilators are also rising, and we also have a large number of deaths," Capak said.

Asked why the number of new cases detected by rapid antigen tests was not included in daily statistics, he said that the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention did not recognise the antigen test but only the PCR test. He added that Slovakia had not reported the results of its massive antigen testing campaign to the WHO. 

"At this point, we are not including these figures. We are tracking them separately and will release them separately," Capak said.

No exemptions from measures

Capak said it was not possible for individual counties to be exempt from the latest restrictions because they were all colour-coded red.

"The incidence rate is so high that there is no need to consider any exemptions. In certain area the measures can only be tightened and not eased," he said.

Asked why the government had not at the same time presented a plan for easing the measures so that people could better organise their lives and work obligations, Capak said that Croatia had opted for a strategy of monitoring the epidemic on a daily basis.

"Some countries plan in advance the steps they will take when new cases reach a certain number, but Croatia is not among them. We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis, and we will discuss the easing of the measures in due course," Capak said.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

HZJZ Publishes New Recommendations for Associate Degree Colleges

ZAGREB, September 3, 2020 - The Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) on Wednesday published recommendations for classes at associate degree colleges, noting that holding physical classes while complying with the epidemiological measures in force is the optimal type of classes for those institutions.

Noting that its recommendations were adopted in line with positions of the National Council for Science, Higher Education and Technological Development, the HZJZ said that classes would be held live, with the presence of both professors and students, and take the form of distance learning in exceptional situations, when the study programme or epidemiological measures require it.

Students are encouraged to show solidarity with and help their colleagues who are unable to attend classes due to the epidemiologial situation while professors are encouraged to regularly hold face-to-face consultations while complying with epidemiological measures in order to maintain the quality of classes.

Exams will be held online in exceptional situations, when written examinations will be avoided and preference will be given to oral exams.

In order to reduce the number of weekly arrivals of students at college, it is recommended that classes be adapted in such a way to enable students to attend more than one class in a row, while respecting epidemiological measures.

If the epidemiological situation deteriorates or there are no physical conditions to hold classes in more spacious rooms, the college may decide to shorten classes.

Students, professors and other employees must not enter the college building if they have elevated body temperature or respiratory symptoms or if they are self-isolating or have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Rules of physical distancing and personal hygiene will be have to be complied with and the wearing of face masks will be obligatory, except in cases when it hampers the teaching process.


For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

National COVID-19 Response Team Introduces New Measures

ZAGREB, Aug 22 - New epidemiological measures have been introduced for Imotski, Cista Provo, Lovrec, Lokvicic, Podbablje, Prolozac, Runovici, Zagvozd and Zmijavci in Split-Dalmatia County, and they will be in force for the next 14 days, starting on August 24, the national COVID-19 response team has said.

The new measures have been introduced at the request of the county and local teams in charge of managing the coronavirus crisis.

The new epidemiological measures limit the number of guests at weddings to 50 while other private ceremonies and celebrations may be organised only within the family and with a maximum 20 guests.

Bars and bistros can serve guests only in open-air spaces, terraces and the like, while family farms which provide catering services must not receive groups of more than 20 people.

Funerals may be attended by a maximum 50 people, who must avoid physical contact when extending condolences to the berieved.


For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.