Rational decisions based in fact. I honestly thought that I had my days mixed up, surely it must be April Fool’s Day today, as I read the headline.
“That can’t be right,” said the puzzled looking journalist next to me who I had just showed the headline to. “Try refreshing the page, that must be wrong,” she added. But no matter how many times I refreshed it the same title glared back at me – Café and restaurant terraces to be allowed to be open from Monday.
This logic defying decision seems strange on a whole number of levels. It’s almost like there is an election just around the corner and logic has been thrown out the window – oh, wait, silly me!
I mean we had under ten cases a day before and had a complete lockdown, and yes, I know financially we can’t support ourselves for long if at all shutting everything down, but it’s the timing of this that had me scratching my head.
So of the many reasons not to open up and potentially increase our daily case rates I am going to concentrate on just one, although I had a wide choice to go for.
Are you sitting comfortably, can I begin? Tourism. The mainstay of our economy, what the vast majority of people live directly or indirectly from. The largest percentage, by some margin, of our tourists come from my home country. You all saw what happened last year when the UK took Croatia off the “safe corridor travel list.” End of season.
And we all know the UK government have been introducing their new travel restrictions for this summer. It is basically going to look like a traffic light system. Clearly, and it doesn’t take a genius to realise this, we don’t what to be on the red list. All indications would suggest that Croatia will be on the amber list, but nothing is set in stone yet. Needless to say the difference between being on the red list and the amber list is life or death for our travel industry.
So how are the lists complied? They will take into account factors such as Covid infection rates, the prevalence of variants, and the extent of vaccination programmes. And as these travel traffic lights have just been announced it is also clear that over the next month, as the travel ban is at least until the 17th of May, that the relevant ministries in the UK government will be looking at figures over the next month.
Which is what makes this time, like now, so incredibly important. So I have one simple question. Do you think opening cafés and restaurants will lower our daily case rate?
We already know that the vaccination issue is, and I am being generous, not going as well as it should. Wouldn’t some sacrifice now make sense for the long-term health of our tourism industry?
It must also be mentioned that our potential target market of Brits is considerably smaller than before. And here’s why. So from our end Brits can enter Croatia if they fulfil one of four different points, three of which mean taking a PCR test and one refers to people already vaccinated. And from the other end even Brits returning home from a green country would need to take a pre-departure virus test and a PCR test on the day after their return.
People coming from amber-list countries will have to take a pre-departure test, isolate for 10 days at home, and get tested on days two and eight after their journey. That’s a lot of testing and consequently a lot of money. Imagine the price of testing for a family of four! Twice!
Or as the Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, said rather bluntly “the insistence on expensive and unnecessary PCR testing rather than rapid testing – even for low-risk countries – will pose an unsustainable burden on passengers, making travel unviable and unaffordable for many people.”
So even if, and it’s a big “if”, we find ourselves on the green list our potential market just got a lot smaller. Being on the amber list means tourists will have to take a pre-departure test, isolate for 10 days at home, and get tested on days two and eight after their journey. And the red list means quarantine for ten days in a hotel at your own cost.
The facts are as clear as the Adriatic. And we have to react now or face the consequences.
And if you thought “oh, it doesn’t matter, we’ll just improve later and everything will work out fine,” then think again. According to information released it isn’t going to be easy to change your status and the restrictions for each tier of the system will be looked at for potential changes on 28 June, 31 July and 1 October.
Get in wrong now and you’ll have to wait for some time to improve your position. I ask again. Will opening café bars and restaurants help us?
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to