Monday, 22 February 2021

Sveta Nedelja Helps Caterers and Gym Owners with 1,500 Kuna

February 22, 2021 – As one of the five best cities in Croatia regarding the living standard, Sveta Nedelja helps caterers and gym owners with one-time assistance of 1,500 kuna.

Although gyms and sports centers opened their doors on February 15 after two and a half months due to epidemiological measures, both gym owners and caterers struggle to cope with the revenue loss. And while the Government aid of 4,000 kuna for all catering and sports workers is still coming, many find this amount insufficient to live normally. It is still not known when and whether the catering facilities in Croatia will be opened.

However, some encouraging news comes for Sveta Nedelja's owners of catering facilities and gyms. Namely, the mayor of Sveta Nedelja, Dario Zurovec, announced on his Facebook profile that all owners of catering facilities and gyms in the city area would receive one-time assistance of 1,500 kuna.

"One-time assistance of the Sveta Nedelja City to cafes, restaurants, gyms, and fitness centers in the amount of 1,500 kuna will at least somewhat alleviate the difficult situation in which our fellow citizens find themselves, whose right to work is limited due to epidemiological measures. Vision, ambition, development, and responsible management have resulted in our city setting standards for the whole of Croatia in recent years. I want us to continue to be that – an example for others city," wrote Mayor Dario Zurović on his Facebook page.

Lately, only positive connotations have been associated with the city of Sveta Nedelja. With their investment in the city development, Sveta Nedelja has been named the best medium-sized town in Croatia for the economy for the last few years. Also, they have been at the very top of the best cities in Croatia for quality of life for several years. Now Sveta Nedelja helps caterers and gym owners with the desire to be a positive example to other Croatian cities as well.

Details of the public call for funds allocated from the city budget have been published on the official website of Sveta Nedelja. All Sveta Nedelja's residents whose work has been suspended by decisions of the Headquarters must fill the form and attach the necessary documentation to receive funds. The application for assistance is open until March 31, 2021.

For the latest news from Dario Zurovec and Sveta Nedelja, follow the dedicated TCN section.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Four New Measures: Coffee to Go Allowed, Gyms, Foreign Language Schools, Casinos Open

February 11, 2021 – At today's Government session, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković presented four new measures valid from Monday, February 15, 2021. The four new measures include allowing cafes to serve coffee to go and the opening up of gyms, foreign language schools and casinos.

Asked about whether the epidemiological measures would be relaxed after February 15, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said yesterday that "fellow citizens who have shown a great deal of responsibility and patience should be rewarded." At today's Government session, Plenković announced the changes, warning that there is still no room for excessive relaxation nor the cessation of the responsible behaviour of all citizens.

"We monitored the development of the epidemiological situation in Croatia, and after talks with the Civil Protection Headquarters, epidemiologists, and members of the Government, we made several decisions," said Plenković.

The four new measures include:

  • enabling caterers to sell coffee to go and thus allow them to do business; February's fees are valid for the entire month
  • allowing the opening of gyms and fitness centres while respecting epidemiological measures, which is good for physical activity and people's health
  • enabling children to study in foreign language schools so that in addition to their regular school activities, they can also attend extracurricular activities
  • allowing the opening of bookmakers, slot machine clubs, and casinos, with restrictions on the consumption of beverages

Plenković added that the next analysis of the measures' effect would be on March 1, 2021. They will decide whether there will be new relaxations or a new tightening up of those epidemiological measures, depending on the epidemiological situation.

Plenković also reported on the situation with the spread of the novel coronavirus in Croatia and the declining trend of new infections. Today, Croatia is third country in the European Union in terms of the weekly average number of confirmed cases per million inhabitants. We have the fifth largest two-week drop in the number of deaths.

"At the same time, we're still in the winter months, and a strong wave of cold weather has been announced. The British variant of the virus has also been identified in Croatia. Many European countries are extending or tightening up their measures. After the initial delays in the delivery of vaccines, we have indications that Pfizer and AstraZeneca's delivery dynamics will accelerate, and we can expect larger quantities by the end of March. So far, we've received about 150,000 doses, and we expect more than 600,000 doses by the end of March, which means that we will be able to vaccinate a much larger number of our fellow citizens," said Plenković.

He pointed out that all three vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca – are all one hundred percent effective in preventing death from the virus. They are also effective against the need for respirators and the development of more severe symptoms.

"There are no obstacles which would suggest that people over 65 should not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine,'' said Plenković, adding that they want to vaccinate as many people as possible who are at risk.

Health Minister Vili Beroš reported that the vaccine's 669 side effects had been reported, and they were most commonly just mild reactions.

"The number of new cases is continuing to fall from week to week. We're monitoring the spread of new variants of this virus. Continuing the vaccination process is our tool for success. Today, we mark the World Day of the Sick. Special emphasis is placed on emotional struggles, and as such I'd like to thank our healthcare professionals," Beroš said.

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

Monday, 8 February 2021

Italians on Cafe and Restaurant Ban in Croatia: 'You Will Die Without Tourism'

February 8, 2021 – "The rules are awful," "You will die without tourism," commented Italians on the cafe and restaurant ban in Croatia.

The Italians, our loyal guests who are getting out of the lockdown, were asked by the journalists of Glas Istre what they think about the ban on the work of cafes and restaurants in Croatia.

The Italian government has determined the rhythm of vaccination by region. The region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, visited by Glas Istre journalists a few days ago when cafes and restaurants reopened, is due in mid-February. The plan is to vaccinate the population older than 80 years first, then the younger age group, but still older than 55.

Italians' opinions regarding vaccination are divided. The older population believes in the effectiveness of the vaccine. About two million Italians have been vaccinated so far.

"If the vaccines are free, then I will get vaccinated, and if not, I will carefully think about it," one middle-aged Italian told them.

"No, I'm not going to get vaccinated. I just don't trust the vaccine," one young Italian told them.

"When it's our turn, we'll get vaccinated," one married couple told them.

With masks required, reporters enjoyed a walk around town. If you do not have a mask, passers-by will immediately warn you that it is mandatory to wear. By doing so, they automatically realize that you are a foreigner unfamiliar with their law, but also with draconian punishments.

Thus, in a walk through the city, they witnessed a lively and loud discussion of two gentlemen, typical of Italians. After concluding their political discussion, they introduced themselves to them, and the conversation began.

"Your Croatian rules are awful now. It's unbelievable that without a test I can't go to Umag, that beautiful city whose bars and restaurants overlook the sea, and those same bars and restaurants are now closed. You will die without tourism, my people. I even called a Croatian consul, I protested, but he is also powerless. We can buy tests here for 25 euros in a pharmacy. Your government is really not normal, because even when I get tested, what should I do in Umag when everything is closed," said retiree Paolo.

The Italian government intends to vaccinate the entire nation by June, citizens claim. Then we guess there will be a final normalization, both for them and us.

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Friday, 29 January 2021

New Measures from Midnight: Restaurants, Cafes, and Gyms in Croatia Remain Closed

January. 29,  2021 - New measures in Croatia for schools and sports will enter into force as of midnight. Restaurants, cafes, and gyms in Croatia remain closed. 

The National Civil Protection Headquarters held a press conference to report on the current epidemiological situation in Croatia and coronavirus vaccination and anti-epidemic measures. At yesterday's session, the Government presented a minimal easing of measures.

In the last 24 hours, 561 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 3117, the National Civil Protection Headquarters announced. Among them, 1286 patients are in hospital, of which 121 are on a ventilator. Twenty-nine people died, the Headquarters announced.

The average age of the deceased was 79 years, and the youngest deceased was 38 years old. Five-hundred-eighty-eight people recovered.

In the last 24 hours, 5,020 people were tested, and the percentage of positives was 11.18%, Vera Katalinić Janković reported at the press conference.

So far, a total of 58,585 people have been vaccinated.

According to the new measures in force from midnight, elementary schools will go back to in-person classes, and sports activities will be allowed outodoors, swimming pools, and sports bubbles. Restaurants, cafes, and gyms will remain closed, reports Slobodna Dalmacija

HZJZ director Krunoslav Capak reported on the 14-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants.

"A week ago, there were 643 new cases out of 4863 tested, and two weeks ago 715 new cases out of 5335 tested. In the first 5 days of this week, there were 2619 new cases, and last week 3015. The number is 13% less than the previous week's figure, so we have a further mitigated downward trend. The incidence per county is 189.0 on average. Sisak-Moslavina has the highest incidence, and Istria has the lowest. Croatia ranks 7th in the EU rankings. Six countries have a lower incidence than us. The total mortality rate per million inhabitants is 1196.8, which puts us in 20th place in the ranking of EU countries. In the last week, the average share of positive tests was 11.2. We spent more than 79,000 vaccine doses. To date, we have received 409 side effects to the Pfizer vaccine and 11 suspected side effects to the Moderna vaccine. These are mainly local reactions, fever, pain at the site of application, and headache, and there have been more serious reactions to the Pfizer vaccine. Two required the use of adrenaline and 22 the use of other medications," Capak said.

Vili Beroš said that today, for the first time, the number of hospitalized is below 1,300 after a long time, but it is still a difficult clinical picture and that we have a large number of deaths.

"This indicates that the clinical picture is still relatively difficult. This allows us to think cautiously in giving in to measures, but not in relaxed behavior. The fact and new strains of the virus in our neighborhood and the current vaccination delay should be taken into account. We must be aware of that, and that emphasizes our responsible behavior, and there is no alternative to that," said Minister Vili Beroš.

Davor Božinović said that the decision on the necessary restrictive measures and recommendations would take effect tomorrow, i.e., tonight at midnight.

"We have decided that the decision will take effect tonight at midnight and will last until February 15."

Patient associations are demanding that high-risk groups be vaccinated with vaccines that are 95 percent effective.

"Not only high-risk but all other citizens as well. They should be allowed to be vaccinated with the best possible vaccine, but the question is what kind of vaccines are available to us. I support such an idea. People who are chronically ill and of old age are the first to be vaccinated, and it should be emphasized that they should be able to be vaccinated with the highest quality vaccines. Numerous discussions are taking place on the topic of which vaccine to procure. The one that is safe and effective. We cannot count on vaccines that are only now in the testing phase since there is no reliable evidence that they are effective. Some more manufacturers are developing new vaccines. Novavax is in the 2nd and 3rd phase of the clinical trial, in the 3rd phase of the study in Britain it showed an efficiency of 89 percent for the common and new strain of the virus," said Beroš.

Capak answered whether the Astra Zeneca vaccine will be registered today and when it will come to the Republic of Croatia.

"Vaccines for the EU are registered with the European Medicines Agency, which has strict procedures and legislation. This means that someone who does not meet these criteria cannot apply and register. That is the price of the safety of our vaccines. They guarantee safety. For other vaccines for which we do not have data and have not been marketed transparently, we cannot claim to be safe. We are waiting for the European Medicines Agency to say whether the vaccine is safe and effective.

Data saying that the Astra Zeneca cannot be used for people over 65 cannot be confirmed because we do not have enough data. At the end of the day, it was agreed that the Astra Zeneca vaccine would be registered today. It was announced that we should receive 156,158 doses of their vaccine by the end of February, in three tranches," Capak said.

Bozinovic referred to the announcements of protests by caterers and gym owners for not loosening measures.

"I still hope that will not happen because there is no reason for that. The measures are just an extension of measures that have been valid for two months, and in those two months, we have concluded that although we still have the most liberal measures in Europe, we also have a clear downward trend in the number of new infections. That number still needs to go down. We must take care of our lives and health. The epidemiological profession has set priorities in preparing this decision, and they do not refer only to this situation but are of a principled nature. When it comes to concessions, the basic rule is that it must be gradual, and given the circumstances surrounding the new variant of the virus and the delay of the vaccine, we must go cautiously. In this context, our Epidemiology Reference Center has set clear principles: if it goes with affordability, health comes first, including sports and education, then the economy, and then other activities. I see no reason for anything to change here. No one in the world has found a recipe for these activities. In EU member states, these facilities have been closed since October. We tried to keep them as open as possible. Representatives of caterers then clearly told us that 90 percent of their members do not adhere to epidemiological measures," said Bozinovic.

"We brought a framework that is difficult to implement in practice, both in terms of the number of people and spacing. At that time, the public space was flooded with information that it was impossible to implement; I'm not sure it was impossible. Then our numbers started to grow; we said the next step was closure, and that’s what happened. It is still winter outside; if it were 24 degrees, the terraces would surely be open. This is not yet a period when the virus is starting to spread less," the minister added.

"We said clearly on February 15, if the numbers are still lower, if a new variant of the virus does not occur, we assume that the situation will be clearer with the vaccine, then we can talk about correcting things to everyone's satisfaction. It is not our goal to harm anyone; the goal is not to repeat November when hospital capacities were on the verge of a breakdown. Do we really need to find ourselves in a difficult situation and repeat the lessons learned? Or can we take all the elements into account and make a rational decision?" said Bozinovic.

"The concession must be gradual. First is education and health, including sports, then the economy, which we did not even close, and only then everything else," Bozinovic added.

Bozinovic explained how training pools could work.

"No showering and use of common areas. Staying in the pool is less risky because of the chlorine in the water and the humidity in the air, which means that the virus spreads more slowly. In practice, that means: you come to the pool, you change, when you go out, you change again and go home. There are no delays, shared locker rooms, showers ... All this can be done at home, the main goal is to train," Bozinovic explained.

He also answered what criteria the Headquarters was guided by when it came to easing measures.

"The criteria we communicated. The opinion of epidemiologists is that one can go into small concessions. This must be gradual and cautious, and in that sequence, the prioritization of concessions starts from education and health, then the economy, and then everything else. With concrete solutions, something was proposed in the wake of what turned into decisions," said Bozinovic.

One journalist asked about opening schools, as counties decide. For example, Brod-Posavina opens high schools, while Istria won't open schools at all.

"They can actually make independent decisions based on recommendations. Our principled position is that counties at this stage can make decisions that are stricter than national ones, but this does not apply when we talk about the school system. We start from the fact that they can assess the situation because the counties are quite different from each other. These are not situations that need to be cut horizontally. I see no problem in the fact that some counties make their own decisions. We do not see that as a problem," said Bozinovic.

Capak answered whether the members of the Government and the Headquarters received the second dose of the vaccine.

"On January 15, we learned that there is a possibility that Pfizer will deliver smaller amounts of the vaccine in 4 weeks. That came true; the first small quantity that arrived, arrived now on Monday. Due to this lack of vaccines, there has been a change in the dynamics of vaccination. We told everyone to keep other doses. Once the vials are taken out of the fridge, they have to be consumed within 5 days. Thus we will be vaccinated now on Tuesday."

Who will be legally liable if the vaccine causes side effects?

"It's a legal issue. Manufacturers received approval after reviewing the documentation; they were required to report everything they saw during clinical studies. The fourth clinical phase is eternal as long as a drug or vaccine exists; some side effects can be recorded even after 5, 10, or 15 years. Once a side effect of the vaccine is proven, medical tests go on, and lawyers can also have a verdict if a dispute arises. That is not an unequivocal question," said Alemka Markotić.

Where did the flu go?

"So far, we have not recorded a single case of influenza in the Republic of Croatia. We examined several samples and found no flu. That doesn't mean she's gone. Some countries in the northern hemisphere report the flu, but there are only a few cases. It seems that the incidence of influenza here will be lower compared to the presence of influenza last year. Measures against Covid are certainly effective against the flu, as they spread in the same way by droplets. The masks do not protect 100% against any respiratory infection. If the presence of the flu were greater, surely some who wear a mask would get sick," Capak said.

In Croatia, everyone will receive the second dose on time, Capak confirmed.

Capak also mentioned negotiations on the Russian vaccine.

"The usual procedure of agreement with the European Medicines Agency is being done. At the moment, we do not have information on the content of those talks and what would be the dynamics of handing over the registration in the EU," Capak said.

Alemka Markotić pointed out that it is not a problem if someone does not receive a second dose on a specific day, but the problem is if there are parts of the world that do not have the vaccine.

"We are constantly exhausted looking for the culprits for something for every little thing. Who is to blame if Pero Perić was not vaccinated on the 26th but the 28th day and fell ill. That is not the essence. The bottom line is when the whole world will have enough vaccines for everyone, even the poorest, to get vaccinated at least once. Then the world will be the safest. It will not save those who have provided vaccination to 80% of the population, and if they are not vaccinated and remain in the world, the virus will continue to spread. Those who think they are protected by vaccination may become infected with another variant of the virus. Let's be positive about what we can do best to get vaccinated here as well as the rest of the world," said Markotić.

Capak again referred to negotiations with other vaccine manufacturers.

"The EU is not negotiating with the Chinese manufacturer. What has been mentioned is that the Russian manufacturer has shown interest in registering the vaccine in the EU, and we do not know anything about the results of these talks. Logically, they would be interested, and, logically, the Chinese manufacturer is looking for its market in the eastern parts. Croatia has reserved 900,000 doses of the Johnson / Johnson vaccine, and this vaccine is given only once, not two doses. Other manufacturers with which the EU is negotiating offer delivery when it does not suit us. We need it as soon as possible. We had promises from the first registered large quantities very early, and those who offer us in the 1st quarter of 2022 are too late for us. In total, we have ordered more than 6 million doses," said Capak, adding that this will be enough for the entire Croatian population, and everything should be delivered during this year.

"We don't think about other manufacturers if they don't offer us the vaccine early enough because we don't need it later," he added.

To read more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Plan to Reopen Restaurants and Cafes in Croatia Leaked, Caterers Association Unhappy

January 21, 2021 - A plan to reopen restaurants and cafes in Croatia was leaked on Wednesday. The Croatian Caterers Association has responded.

The Croatian Caterers Association said that the hospitality sector's final decline, directed by the Civil Protection Headquarters, is underway.

According to them, the first outlines of the working document, which contains a general proposal of reopening within the catering and tourism sector, have been leaked. Sources close to the Headquarters claim that the first in line to open are those they believe have coped best with the overall situation, alluding to hotels, reports

"The first outlines of the working document containing the principle of opening dynamics within the hospitality and tourism sector have been leaked. Sources close to the Headquarters claim that the first to open are those they think have coped best with the overall situation, alluding to hotels. The opening of restaurants is planned for the beginning of March, and only a few weeks later, cafe bars would open with the possibility of serving exclusively on the terraces. Based on all the above, the Headquarters decided to rule on the catering sector by reckless decisions, without involving the experts in defining the action plan for opening.

This scenario is unacceptable to us as an Association which, without exception, demands equal treatment of all catering facilities in a way that abandons the extraordinarily flawed and discriminatory model that defines WHO can work and adheres to the model that will determine WHAT should be done in which way to prevent the spread of infection from an epidemiological point of view. Putting subjects from the same sector in an unequal position based on their name might make sense a few centuries ago, but not today when we are all obliged to explain and argue our views with irrefutable facts as a result of serious studies and analyzes. In the Association, we take the position of the only legal representative of the profession seriously. For months, we have been trying to amortize the discrepancy between the needs of the market and the Headquarters' failed decisions. We are surprised by the Headquarters' approach after everything we have done in the last two months. From the first day the Decision was implemented by the Headquarters, which marked the second lockdown of the hospitality sector, we have appealed and offered solutions to all identified shortcomings of the decision.

We believe that the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia, following the announcements, will consider them at the end of the month. For months now, the National Caterers Association has been mentioned as a partner in the Civil Protection Headquarters' dialogue, and quality communication and consultation before making decisions is promised. At one point, we refrained from criticizing the Headquarters for reducing the burden they carry on their backs and thus enable calmer reasoning and better decisions, all in the hope that they will go with the best of intentions, taking into account all the relevant parameters and factors that have influenced decision making.

But in reality, we have served, and still serve only as a buffer zone, as a kind of shield that takes the blows and criticism of our colleagues, whose fate we share, because unlike the HOK and HGK whose affairs we have taken over because of their inertia or incompetence, we are not paid by forced taxes, but by our work in the profession that suffers the most significant burden of this crisis, without adequate compensation, without real arguments, and in fear of whether we will see tomorrow at all. The National Caterers Association leaders, President Marin Medak and Vice President Vedran Jakominić were forced to resign irrevocably from their positions after this outcome. They believe that the continuation of the monologue by the Headquarters without the profession's voice is a pure expression of distrust towards everyone whose rights are limited by their decisions.

As someone who knows the situation on the ground, in what fear and uncertainty our colleagues live and as someone whose future and bare existence also depend on the thinnest thread, it is becoming increasingly difficult to convince hundreds, even thousands of fellow caterers that the Headquarters know what it is doing and is acting with the best of intentions. We are legalists, we respect the law, and we adhere to all possible prescribed measures. Still, we hereby call for a new dialogue, for providing equal conditions and chances for survival for all, so that we can catch the last train which can prevent the dialogue at the table from being replaced by that on the street, as we have witnessed in recent days in Italy, Austria, Poland, and other European countries," reads the statement of the National Caterers Association of Caterers.

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