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.
As the Covid-19 situation in Croatia slowly stabilises and the number of new cases continues to fall the country is opening up and strict restriction measures are being lifted.
Here is information taken directly from the government’s official coronavirus update website – koronavirus.hr – and offers correct advice for foreigners entering the country. The article is entitled "Recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health for Croatian and foreign nationals who are crossing the state border and entering the Republic of Croatia."
Here are the instructions in full -
The Decision on the Temporary Ban of Transit through Border Crossings of the Republic of Croatia (“Official Gazette” number 32/20 and 48/20), and the Decision on the Amendment of the aforementioned Decision from 9 May 2020, allows
• Croatian citizens to enter into Republic of Croatia and go abroad.
• The return to the country of residence for citizens of EU Member Countries, namely citizens of Schengen Countries and Schengen Associated Countries as well as their family members, and third-country nationals who are long-term residents pursuant to the Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents and persons who have the right of residence on the basis of other EU Directives or national law or who have national long-term visas, and entry into the Republic of Croatia under special conditions.
• The same decision also prescribes exceptions for the application of abovementioned provisions, and they apply to the following
o healthcare professionals, healthcare researchers and associates, senior care professionals, and those requiring urgent medical treatment
o cross-border workers
o freight carriers and other transport personnel to the extent necessary
o diplomats, police officers in the performance of their duties, civil protection services and teams, personnel of international organizations and international military personnel in the performance of their functions,
o transit passengers, and for:
o persons who have a business reason or who have some other economic interest
o persons who are traveling due to urgent personal reasons (i.e. they own real estate in the Republic of Croatia or who have some other urgent personal reason).
Entry into the Republic of Croatia for Croatian citizens. The self-isolation measure in the duration of 14 days from article II. of the Decision is no longer implemented for Croatian citizens, instead upon entry into the Republic of Croatia they are given a leaflet by the border police in which they are notified that they are obligated to adhere to general and special recommendations and instructions by the Croatian Institute of Public Health, which recommend that they should limit their interaction with other persons from their area and only carry out the most urgent tasks outside of their homes during the 14-day period from the date they entered into the Republic of Croatia. The abovementioned also applies to foreign nationals who are allowed entry into the Republic of Croatia under special conditions.
Entry into the Republic of Croatia for foreign nationals. If the foreign national intends to cross the state border he has to meet one of the following conditions
• Possesses documentation with which he can prove ownership of real estate located in the Republic of Croatia, or vessel (lessee is also permitted), or is attending a funeral in the Republic of Croatia (possesses appropriate documentation which proves this). After meeting the conditions, such foreign nationals are allowed to cross the state border, they are registered and the location/address where they will stay, or where the real estate/vessel is located, is entered as well as the contact telephone number and duration of stay-when they plan leaving the Republic of Croatia.
• They possess documentation with which they prove that they were invited to the Republic of Croatia by an economic operator, the economic operator’s interest for them to enter into Republic of Croatia, or a business meeting invite. For these passengers, it is necessary to enter the place / address where they will stay and the contact phone number and duration of stay - when they plan to leave the Republic of Croatia.
Epidemiological measures. All of the abovementioned Croatian and foreign nationals have to be instructed regarding the epidemiological measures that they are obliged to adhere to, and they are as follows
• Persons from these categories are obligated to reduce contact with other persons to a minimum and adhere to instructions on reducing the risk of disease transmission (avoid physical contact, maintain a distance of at least 1.5 m during face-to-face contact; wash or disinfect hands often,
• handshakes; avoid touching your face, and it is recommended that they wear a face mask or surgical mask indoors, or outside of their home or accommodation).During the 14-day period from the date of entry into the Republic of Croatia, the persons measure their body temperature during the morning hours and if the body temperature reading is higher than 37.2 °C, if the person feels sick or has any signs of the disease, he should contact the chosen family physician, if he has one, or a territorially competent epidemiologist. The property owner or his representative or host, i.e. the organizer of their arrival, may assist the foreign nationals in contacting the epidemiological service.
• Occurrence of symptoms of the disease during the stay in the Republic of Croatia. If the persons cross the state border and develop symptoms of the disease after entering into the Republic of Croatia, they will stay in their accommodation and contact their host, i.e. organizer of their arrival, via telephone, who will notify the epidemiologist on standby or the competent primary healthcare physician. Outside of the working hours of the competent primary healthcare physician, the host of the foreign (official) person, who is exhibiting pronounced symptoms of the disease, calls the emergency medical services or contacts the closest COVID infirmary via telephone.
Entry into the Republic of Croatia for persons exhibiting signs of the disease. If a person is exhibiting signs of the disease when entering the Republic of Croatia, the border police shall inform the border sanitary inspector and / or the sanitary inspector of the Regional or Central Office of the State Inspectorate. Such persons are recommended not to enter the Republic of Croatia, and if they have to cross the state border due to urgent reasons, they are sent to the competent health institution for testing and treatment by the shortest possible route, that is, they are sent to be tested and undergo isolation.
Recommendation not to travel. Persons who have an elevated body temperature and/or acute respiratory infection symptoms should postpone their trip to the Republic of Croatia. Before traveling, foreign nationals are advised to measure their morning body temperature. If the person’s body temperature, which was measured in the morning hours, is higher than 37.2 °C, if the person feels sick or is exhibiting any signs of the disease (relates to all symptoms and signs of the diseases, not just respiratory diseases), it is recommended that that person should not travel.
Recommendations and instructions by the Croatian Institute of Public Health. Croatian and foreign nationals who are entering the Republic of Croatia are obligated to adhere to these instructions for a duration of 14 days from the date of crossing the border, in the following manner
• During the first 14 days after entering the Republic of Croatia, leaving the accommodation is limited to the following: for work, if the entry into the Republic of Croatia was due to business reasons, performing necessary activities while continuously adhering to hygienic measures.
• When leaving the accommodation due to necessary reasons, it is recommended to use a face mask or a nose and mouth cover, maintain physical distance from other people (no less than 1.5 m) and maintain hand hygiene.
• Wash hands as often as possible with warm water and soap, and/or use hand disinfectant which should be thoroughly rubbed between the palms. Avoid touching the face, mouth, nose and eyes.
• Avoid using public transportation. In a means of transport, it is preferable for the person to be alone or exclusively with persons who are sharing the accommodation.
• Consistently avoid groups and public gatherings.
• Meet as few people as possible during business meetings, ensure a physical distance of 1.5 meters with disinfectant being readily available, avoid unnecessary meetings.
• During their stay at the accommodation, such persons prepare their own food, or use food and beverage delivery services.
• Payment is done by contactless payment or through on-line services.
• The body temperature has to be measured each morning, if it is higher than 37.2 C° it has to be measured again after 10 minutes, and if it is still higher than 37.2 C°, they should stay at home/accommodation and notify the chosen family physician, if they have one (Croatian citizens), or the territorially competent epidemiologist.
• In the event that symptoms of acute respiratory infection occur (cough, sore throat, elevated body temperature, shortness of breath/trouble breathing, loss of smell and taste) it is necessary to stay at home/accommodation and notify the chosen family physician, if they have one (Croatian citizens), or the territorially competent epidemiologist.
• In the event that severe, life-threatening symptoms suddenly occur, the person should contact the urgent medical services.In the event that symptoms of respiratory disease occur. If you develop respiratory disease symptoms (elevated body temperature, cough, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, sore throat, weakness) call your chosen physician, who will evaluate the need for testing for the novel coronavirus on the basis of your health condition. If you require medical assistance for reasons other than respiratory diseases, call your chosen physician or have one of your household members contact him for a consultation and to arrange a house visit. Do not go to a healthcare facility alone without notifying them over the telephone beforehand. You can read more information about the coronavirus disease and measures for reducing the risk of spreading the disease on the CIPH website, as well as from your chosen doctor and territorially competent epidemiologist.
Today, two new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the whole of Croatia. A total of 2,234 patients have contracted the virus since the pandemic began and 1,978 people have made a total recovery.
The new patients are from Vukovar-Srijem and Koprivnica-Križevci counties. So far, 57,021 people have been tested, of which 1,221 were tested in the past 24 hours.
There are 3 fewer people in hospital, meaning that up and down the country there are 117 people in hospital, of these, 8 patients are on a ventilator, the Civil Protection Headquarters said in a press release.
So far, 96 people have died in Croatia due to Covid-19.
In the past 24 hours in the whole of the Dubrovnik – Neretva County there have been no new cases of Covid-19 detected. Today is the thirteenth day in a row that the county has been corona-free.
According to a press release from the Dubrovnik – Neretva County the remaining findings sent for analysis on Monday were all negative, and 44 samples were taken for processing on Tuesday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 2,773 samples have been sent to Zagreb for analysis.
As of today, 2 positive patients are hospitalized in the Infectious Diseases Department of Dubrovnik General Hospital. Since the Covid-19 pandemic first struck the Dubrovnik – Neretva County a total of 118 people contracted the Covid-19 virus with the first case uncovered on the 18th of March in Konavle.
For over a month the spread of the virus has been well under control across the county, with only 8 new cases recorded since the 17th of April.
In total 8 people have died from Covid-19 in the county and 97 patients have made a full recovery. A total of 10 citizens are currently in self-isolation in the county, and in the last 24 hours no violation of the self-isolation measure has been established.
And after all three main phases of the Civil Protection Headquarters easing of Covid-19 measures have been in effect for some time now the numbers of new cases haven’t increased, both in the Dubrovnik – Neretva County and across the rest of Croatia, quite the contrary numbers have continued to decrease. And as life slowly returns to normal, albeit a Covid-19 normal, the message of “stay at home” has transformed into “stay responsible.” It has to be said that in the main this message is being followed and social distancing is still in effect. Thanks to strict and swift regulations from the government and a well-disciplined population the spread of the virus has been exceptionally well combated across Croatia. As experts from Oxford University pointed out – Croatia had the strictest Covid-19 measures in the world – and these measures certainly paid dividends.
The only measure that is still waiting, although not for much longer, is the complete opening of borders to tourists and the regulations and special conditions that they will face.
President Zoran Milanovic announced today that the parliamentary elections will be held on July 5 this year, according to a decision sent from the Office of the President.
According to the decision on calling elections for members of the Croatian Parliament, elections at polling stations in the Republic of Croatia will be held on Sunday, July 5, 2020, and elections at polling stations at the headquarters of diplomatic and consular missions of the Republic of Croatia will be held on Saturday July 4 and Sunday, July 5, 2020.
Croatia can expect around a 70 percent drop in tourism revenues in 2020 compared to last year, according to the Croatian Minister of Tourism, Gari Cappelli. He has stated that based on bookings, communication with travel operators and partners as well as the borders opening and the positive epidemiological situation that interest in holidaying in Croatia is increasing. However, a realistic expectation is about a third of last year’s tourism revenue, or about 4 billion Euros.
He added that by the end of May "borders will be opened with four or five more countries from the immediate vicinity, and then in mid-June with Germany and then further with more countries,” said Cappelli, who expressed expectations and announcements for this tourist season as a guest on Nova TV.
When asked about intensified campaigns and competition marketing, especially Greece, which is being promoted as the corona-free country, he answered with a graph on tourist demand from a survey in Germany, according to which Croatia is the most sought after among the four Mediterranean countries (Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia).
He also noted that there is great interest in setting up airlines with Israel and other countries.
He also referred to Dubrovnik, which as a mostly tourist air destination with 90 percent of tourists coming by plane is now suffering a lot because there are no flights, saying that they recently had a very serious conversation with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković about resolving the issue of ports, tourism and air traffic. It has been decided that, if nothing else is possible, Croatia Airlines flights to Dubrovnik will be operated with a special joint advertising program with the Croatia National Tourist Board.
"I spoke with the Mayor of Dubrovnik about the initiative to start bookings in Luxembourg on June 1, and that epidemiologists will agree on the details of accepting these flights from Luxembourg and some other countries where there is interest," the minister revealed.
The Czech Republic is planning to ease travel between the central European country and other countries, including Croatia, deemed safe from risks of coronavirus from June 8, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Monday, reports the Ministry of Tourism.
The Reuters news agency recalls that "the Czech Republic was among the first countries in Europe to ban entry by foreigners and even banned most Czechs from travelling abroad to keep the spread of the infection under control in March."
Some restrictions have been eased but the country is still not open for foreign tourism and Czechs are required to present a negative coronavirus test upon return or go into quarantine.
Discussions have been underway to open borders with neighbours such as Austria and Slovakia, which have also taken steps to relax their border regimes.
Vojtech was quoted by Reuters as saying "he had proposed that as of June 8, travel to and from a list of risky countries - to be determined but currently likely to include Spain, Italy or France - would be subject to the current requirements while others deemed safe - such as Austria, Slovakia or Croatia - would be exempt."
Vojtech said the list of risky countries would be updated continuously. Prime Minister Andrej Babis said last week that borders with Slovakia and Austria could be fully opened from June 8.
In mid-April, Babis and his Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic held a telephone conversation on the arrival of Czech tourists in Croatia this summer.
Plenkovic said on Twitter then that they agreed the two countries' tourism ministers should propose models for the arrival of Czech tourists in Croatia this year.
Eurowings, the budget sister airline of Lufthansa, has announced it will restart flights from Hamburg and Dusseldorf to Rijeka, from Dusseldorf to Pula and from Cologne to Zadar from the 20th of June this year.
The low-cost airline will run a weekly service between these German and Croatian destinations, reports Ex-Yu Aviation. Although it is so far a reduced flight schedule, when compared with 2019, this news will certainly be a boost for Croatia’s tourism industry. Eurowings has also announced that they will continue to operate flights between Cologne and Zagreb.
Eurowings’ CEO, Jens Bischof, commented that “We can feel the growing desire of people to travel again and relax and enjoy their holidays after a long period of travel bans. This is exactly what we are now making possible with our extended summer schedule – reliably, safely and with all due caution. Travelling, whether private or professional, will be possible again”.
It isn’t only the travel industry and the real estate market in Croatia that have seen prices tumbling since the Covid-19 pandemic began but so has the car market. Demand for new cars across Europe in April pretty much collapsed, and according to new figures the decline in Croatia was higher than the European average.
A report by the ACEA manufacturer's association showed on Tuesday that a massive 76 percent less new cars were registered in the 26 countries of the European union in April, a heavy blow for Europe’s car manufacturers.
April is the first month in which Covid-19 measures have been in place from the first day to the last day from governments trying to curb the spread of Covida-19, the ACEA explains the biggest drop in demand since they began publishing reports.
Among the leading European markets, demand sank the most in Italy and Spain, by 97.6 and 96.5 percent, respectively. The pandemic hit these two European countries the hardest. Demand fell 61.1 percent in Germany and 88.8 percent in France.
According to ACEA data, a total of 1,077 new cars were registered in Croatia in April, 87.5 percent less than in the same month last year. In March, demand for cars fell 46.2 percent.
A total of 11,078 new cars were registered in Croatia in the first four months of this year, which is 46.8 percent less than in the same period last year, the ACEA report showed.