Friday, 18 September 2020
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

In the last 24 hours, 261 new cases of Covid-19 virus infection were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 2429.

Unfortunately, over the last 24-hour period seven people passed away due to the virus, the worst day for fatalities since the Covid-19 began in Croatia.

Four of these deaths were in the Split-Dalmatia County. 

There are currently 313 people in hospital across the country and 24 patients on a ventilator.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of Covid-19 infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 13,368 people have been infected with the new coronavirus, of which 218 have died and 10,721 have recovered.

There are currently 8,955 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 216,495 people have been tested, of which 5,690 in the last 24 hours.

 

Dubrovnik is a photographer’s dream, let’s face it you can throw a camera in the air and capture a great image. And every day Instagram is filled to overflowing point with some absolutely stunning images of the pearl of the Adriatic.

We have selected our top five just as a Saturday pick-up. Check out our top five inspiring Dubrovnik Instagram photos from last week and keep sending us your own photos and videos of the region.

 

Cavtat in the summer time, especially in September, is a hive of activity. The street-side restaurants would be full with al fresco diners, the souvenir shops awash with guests looking for that special gift and the beaches lined with colourful towels. This picturesque seaside town should be alive to the sounds of children splashing in the shallows, beer glasses clinking together and the roll of chains as another superyacht drops anchor. But this is no normal year.

The colours of sounds of September seem a million miles away. It feels like February but with bright sunshine and baking temperatures. A seagull perches on a stone bollard, probably wondering to itself where everybody went. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions have almost turned Cavtat into a ghost town.

empty square in cavtat

Normally a bustling town square - Photo Mark Thomas 

The handful of tourists enjoying the sights, and quite possibly the sound of silence, are a privileged few. Three Spanish girls stop to take a selfie with a statute, laughing and joking, their voices echo off the stone façades, rather eerily. A nearby restaurant, with upwards of twenty tables, stands completely empty, with only a waiter sitting in the shade and scratching his forehead, probably in disbelief. Two elderly local men sit huddled over expressos in the adjacent café bar, their voices drowned out by MTV on the large screen TV. The owner waves to me in acknowledgement, then shrugs his shoulders.

girl drinking water in croatia

Alone in thoughts - Photo Mark Thomas 

Brightly coloured scarfs, tablecloths and embroidery work hang from the stalls of the small market place, the only thing moving them is a gentle southerly breeze. And the local beach is now the private beach of one couple, quite possibly from the UK, who have a personal waiter from the beach bar. “They will certainly have a relaxing holiday,” smiles one local to me as he walks past with his dog.

hostesses in cavtat 2020

Promenade for themselves - Photo Mark Thomas 

 But this isn’t February, this is midday in the height of the tourist season, lunch time for the tourists and coffee time for the locals.

“We are rolling with the punches,” explains one restaurant owner as he sits alone at one of his pavement tables. “Everyone is in the same boat, the whole world, but I have a feeling some of the boats will sink over the winter,” he adds with a wry smile. And another business owner has a similar tone “It’s a question of adjusting your sails to try and catch some wind, but finding any wind is becoming harder,” she adds.

empty cafe bars cavtat 2020

Empty cafe bar tables in Cavtat - Photo Mark Thomas 

Again midday in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the south of Croatia, one that planes fly over all summer in their hundreds. I have spent three hours people watching and have lifted my head up to the skies to the sound of jet engines twice.

“Just how many people in Cavtat have had this virus?” a young couple from Poland ask. “Well, not sure about Cavtat, but in this borough of Konavle I think its 36 people.” They look back at me in disbelief, and all they can answer is “shame.” Whether they meant it’s a shame that 36 got the virus, or a shame that with relatively low numbers the place is deserted I didn’t comprehend. I guess both ways it’s a shame.

       

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In the last 24 hours, 14 new cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

These new Covid-19 cases include two men and one woman from Dubrovnik (an epidemiological link has been established for one man and one woman), four men and one woman from Metković (an epidemiological link has been established for two men), one woman from the borough of Župa, one male from Ploče (established epidemiological connection), one male from Slivno and one female from Opuzen who do not have an established epidemiological connection and two male persons who do not reside in our county.

13 people have made a full recovery - five from Dubrovnik, three from Metković, two from Župa and three people who do not reside in our county.

24 people tested positive for coronavirus are currently hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital, of which four people are on a ventilator.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 11,496 samples have been sent for analysis.

There are 656 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours, one case of violation of the self-isolation measure was determined.

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Austria will tighten measures on wearing masks and social distancing at public events and restaurants from Monday, in response to the increase in the spread of coronavirus infection in the country, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Friday.

Wearing masks will be mandatory from Mondays in shops, public transportation and schools outside classrooms, he said. Private events will be limited to 50 participants indoors and 100 outdoors, while professionally organized seating events will be able to accommodate 1,500 people inside and 3,000 outside.

The daily number of those infected has been rising since late June, rising to 644 on Thursday, the highest number since the end of March, when the initial increase in the number of those infected was declining due to national quarantine.

"Especially because the summer has gone well and people can't believe the numbers are rising again, I urge all of us to take the situation seriously," Kurz told a news conference.

 

Traveling to the USA is only possible if you are eligible and if you have the right documents to do so. The US is implementing strict rules and screening processes for citizens of other nations before they are allowed to enter the country. Even the countries under the VWP or Visa Waiver Program have to meet certain criteria so they can earn the membership. The good news for the people of Croatia is that their country may soon become a member of this program, a great benefit for its citizens as they can already enjoy visa-free travel to the US soon.

Current Status of Croatia

Citizens of Croatia need to fulfill all the requirements of a Visa application to be able to travel to the US. Since this country is not a member of the Visa Waiver Program, they have to go through a long process to obtain a visa. This is about to change, though, as Croatia is already on the verge of fulfilling one of its last criteria. The Croatian government is keen currently working on lowering the visa refusal rate, which means that they have to decrease it to the minimum. In the past years, they were able to reduce their rate from 5.9% to 4%. The target rate is below 3%, which means that they are already on their way to achieving that. It will be easy for them to become a member of the VWP once they successfully get this done.

Visa Requirements for Croatians

The first thing you have to prepare in preparing for your visa application is a valid Croatian passport. It means that it still has another 6 months before expiration. You can find the other requirements from their website, which includes all the documents you need to provide, like a nonimmigrant visa application form, a recent photo, and a birth certificate, among others. Once Croatia is approved to be part of the VWP program, they would only need to submit a form online as seen on https://www.estaform.org/, and they can do this a day before their departure. You would also need to visit the embassy to submit your requirements and process the application. Other materials that should be printed out from the website should be brought with you as you go to the US Embassy for the interview. 

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Photo - Agus Dietrich on Unsplash

Other Reminders When Traveling

When traveling to the US, do not forget to prepare all the documents you need before leaving the airport, most especially your visa. You are going to be instantly denied travel once you forget this document. Make sure you have done everything right when you apply for the visa because it can affect the application of the whole country to the VWP should you fail to successfully obtain one.

With the imminent inclusion of Croatia to the VWP program, the citizens of the country can already enjoy traveling by ESTA application. Through this, they can already avoid the long and tedious process of visa application and requirements. More people can travel to the US and enjoy what the country has to offer.

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In the last 24 hours, 190 new cases of Covid-19 virus infection were recorded across Croatia, meaning that there are now 2,430 active cases of Covid-19 in Croatia.

Today’s figures announced are a significant drop on recent days, yesterday there were 291 new cases and on Wednesday 341 new Covid-19 cases. And as there were almost 1,400 more tests carried out over the past 24-hour period than compared to yesterday’s numbers the situation is even more stable.

There are currently 327 patients in hospital across Croatia and 26 people are on a ventilator. Unfortunately, over the last 24 hours 3 people passed away due to the virus.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case of Covid-19 was recorded in Croatia a total of 13,107 people have been infected, of which 211 have passed away and 10,466 have made a full recovery.

There are currently 8720 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 210,805 people have been tested, of which 5,549 were tested in the last 24 hours.

The Split-Dalmatian County, with 610 active cases, and the City of Zagreb, with 427 active cases, are the most effected regions in Croatia.

 

 

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More than 30 traditional Croatian dishes and drinks are on the shelves of Lidl stores in 14 European countries currently, the German retail chain announced on Thursday.

Lidl's Belgian, Bulgarian, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Slovenian, German, Austrian, Dutch, Swiss, Czech and Slovak customers have the opportunity to try some of the best Croatian specialties, united under the Croamore brand.

Lidl points out that with this move they have supported domestic suppliers by enabling them to sell on the European market.

On the shelves of the mentioned Lidl stores are some of the most famous Croatian products such as Dalmatian prosciutto, ham and pancetta, Baranja kulen, sausages and cheeses from various Croatian regions, premium pasta, sardines and mackerel, Kraš biscuits, Franck kava, Podravkina Lino Lada, Ožujsko beer, Plavac and Graševina wines, walnut rolls, fig jam and many other delicacies.

Lidl added that the brand of recognizable Croatian Croamore products, intended for marketing and sales outside Croatia, was presented in 2016, when Lidl representatives from foreign countries had the opportunity to taste and choose from more than 90 Croamore products.

With the penetration of Lidl's offer on foreign markets, the door was opened to domestic suppliers and Croatian products that have found their place in Lidl stores throughout Europe, according to Lidl Croatia.

Through such projects, as they point out, Lidl's domestic suppliers use Lidl's network to market their products in many European countries, which promotes Croatian products and Croatia in general abroad.

Lidl has been operating in Croatia since 2006, when it expanded its sales network throughout Croatia, opening 102 stores and 2 logistics and distribution centers, and employs more than 2,300 employees.

 

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