Austrian Prime Minister, Sebastian Kurz, is clearly ahead of his European counterparts when it comes to easing off COVID-19 restrictions. Kurz has presented his "calendar" of the gradual exit from the semi-quarantine. After Easter, starting on the 14th of April, all small shops (up to 400 square meters in area) will be reopened, as well as shops specializing in the sale of building materials and equipment for gardens. Starting from the 1st of May, all other stores, shopping centres and some services, such as hairdressing and beauty salons, will also be reopened. Cafes, restaurants and hotels could be allowed to reopen in the second half of May.
And this policy, “Phase 2”, is one that Croatian politicians have also shown interest in mirroring, although in Croatia the final decision will be left to the Civil Protection Directorate.
Austria has certainly seen a drop off in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus over the past few days. At the end of March there were up to 800 cases a day, this has dropped significantly to less than three hundred a day over the past seven days. A similar scenario has been seen in Croatia with yesterday’s case numbers of 40 the smallest daily percentage increase since COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.
When the Minister of the Interior, Davor Bozinovic, was asked about the possibility of relaxing the strict measures that Croatia has introduced he answered that “It all depends on the epidemiological situation. We are waiting for the optimal epidemiological moment and I think we are getting closer to it.”
Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, seems to be much more optimistic: he said that anti-epidemiological measures must continue to be implemented, but also that the Government was preparing decisions on the "relaxation" of some measures, restrictions and prohibitions. “At this stage, we must implement restrictive measures, calibrating them to the needs of the economy and functioning of key activities as normally as possible. We aim to ensure that all relaxation measures are appropriate to epidemiological assessments,” stated Plenkovic.
And when Bozinovic was asked by the newspaper Jutarnji List whether Croatia’s policy would be similar to that of the Austrians he answered that he though Croatia would follow a similar logic to loosening the measures as Austria. Meaning that we could see many more businesses reopening their doors in the next few weeks.