‘Greece has always prided itself on its sunny weather, beaches and islands. And anyone familiar with the coast of Croatia will know that finding towel room on its increasingly crowded beaches is a challenge‘, Guy Delauney & Kostas Kallergis write for BBC News in their article named ‘Coronavirus: Greece and Croatia acted fast, now need to save summer‘.
Let’s see what they wrote about Croatia!
How did they react?
Croatia was on alert soon after news of the Covid-19 epidemic emerged from China. The Institute of Public Health had published guidelines even before the arrival of a busload of tourists from Wuhan in late January.
Local media raised concerns that Chinese workers constructing the Peljesac Bridge on the Dalmatian coast might have returned from virus-affected areas in China.
When did lockdown start?
The first confirmed Croatian case came on 25 February, almost a month after Italy and the UK. It involved a man who had been in Milan six days earlier to see the now-notorious Champions League match between Atalanta and Valencia. It became more difficult to enter Croatia immediately after its first case. Although an EU member, it is not yet part of the Schengen border-free area. So, despite protests from neighbouring Slovenia, it had no compunction about imposing ‘health checks’ at border crossings. By the end of February, a border queue of freight traffic stretched back for miles.
Also, in the middle of the epidemic, Croatia’s capital Zagreb was hit by an earthquake Restrictions tightened rapidly. Within two weeks, arrivals from 18 countries would find themselves confined to quarantine or self-isolation if they entered Croatia. There were internal measures to match. Most commercial and cultural activity had ceased by mid-March. And on 23 March people were confined to their neighbourhoods unless they obtained an ‘e-pass’ to travel.
Can they rescue summer?
Now Croatia and Greece are moving to a gradual easing of those restrictions.
For Croatia the problem is no longer how to keep foreigners out, but to bring them back in. About half of Croatia’s 20 million annual visitors arrive in July and August and tourism is responsible for at least a fifth of its economic output.
Why Croatia needs open borders
Croatia needs co-operation from its neighbours, Slovenia in particular. Slovenians rank second only to Germans in terms of the number of nights they spend in Croatia. If you travel by road from Northern Europe you have to cross Slovenia to reach the beaches of Istria, Dalmatia and the Kvarner Gulf.
The two countries’ tourism ministers met in Zagreb last week to sketch out a plan to allow Slovenians to travel across Croatia’s borders by the end of this month, with other nationalities following in June.
Czech travel agencies are keen to establish a “corona corridor” enabling quarantine-free travel to the coast, a plan warmly received by Croatia’s prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic. A survey in Austria too has indicated that people are still hoping to bask in the Croatian sun.
This may seem like an odd time to be thinking about holidays. But these are both countries with tourism-reliant economies and, having acted swiftly and thoroughly, a successful summer could be seen as a fitting reward – they conclude the article.