March 14, 2020 – With so many questions about coronavirus in Croatia, an attempt by Total Croatia News to cover the most common questions in our first COVID-19 in Croatia FAQ session.
Before we start, let’s agree on a couple of things. With the situation changing so rapidly (who could imagine the current scenes in Italy in February, 2020, for example?), parts of this article will be out of date as soon as it is published. This is an attempt to summarise the latest info and answer the most commonly asked questions. For the very latest information, please follow our dedicated coronavirus in Croatia section here, where you will find links to all TCN articles on the virus – there are a LOT.
TCN is also producing a comprehensive daily coronavirus update on links, stats, health and travel advice – and even an updated corona map of Croatia – in these uncertain times. You can see the March 13 update here, as well as following the latest daily update on the dedicated section link in the paragraph above.
And so to those FAQs – if you have another question, please contact us at [email protected] Subject Corona and we will do our best to answer and add to this resource below, if the topic is adequately relevant.
- 12. Where can I find the most current and reliable information about coronavirus in Croatia in English?.
- 14. What is the general attitude of the Croatian population and government to the 2020 coronavirus crisis?.
The first case of coronavirus was recorded on February 25, 2020. As of time of writing (10:00 on March 14, 2020), there have been 37 confirmed cases in Croatia. 14 in Zagreb, 8 in Rijeka, 6 in Istria, 5 in Varazdin, 2 in Osijek, and one each in Sisak and Pentrinja.
2. Has anyone died of coronavirus in Croatia?
Nobody has died of coronavirus in Croatia so far, indeed the first two people infected have now recovered.
There are also no reported fatalities in Croatia’s five neighbouring countries – Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Montenegro. As you can see from the TCN March 13 update, Slovenia had 141 cases, Hungary 9, Serbia 35, BiH 18, with Montenegro currently the only country in Europe without any reported cases.
Serbia has closed some borders with Croatia, and there are also freight traffic restrictions. Here is the latest updated advice from HAK – click on this link for the latest English-language updates, as well as a guide to border crossing delays.
Due to additional controls at the border crossings there can be long delays in both passenger and freight traffic.
At Batina, Principovac, Principovac 2 and Ilok 2 border crossings all traffic is suspended.
Traffic is closed at the following border crossings:
- at Goričan border crossing, detour: Goričan junction-ŽC2026-DC3;
- at Dvor and Vitaljina border crossings – open only to passenger traffic;
- at Gunja border crossing – there is a traffic ban on freight vehicles and buses.
Due to traffic bans on freight vehicles in Slovenia long delays should be expected in freight traffic at Bregana/Obrežje and Macelj/Gruškovje border crossings starting 1 June.
5. Are there any travel restrictions for people travelling to Croatia?
Yes. From the UK Government updated travel advice yesterday:
”The Croatian Government has introduced with immediate effect a compulsory fourteen-day self-isolation for all foreign nationals arriving from the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Netherlands, China, Korea, Japan, Singapore and Sweden.
Visitors with no residence in Croatia will be asked for proof of an accommodation booking. Those refusing self-isolation will be denied entry into Croatia and be instructed to return to their point of origin. Failure to comply with public health decisions may result in fines or even criminal charges.”
The picture is still a little unclear, but it is obvious that the global slowdown will hit Croatia as it should be preparing for its tourist season. Key announcements so far include Ryanair cancelling many flights and delaying their Zadar base until 2021; Korean Air temporarily halting their Zagreb route; Lufthansa stopping its Zagreb route, British Airways reducing flights to Zagreb, Norwegian cancelling 4,000 flights globally, the list goes on. While a clear picture for Croatia is yet to emerge, it seems obvious that some budget airlines have moved their seasonal route launches in some cases back to May. TCN did an overview a few days ago about the flight cancellation situation, with links to various airlines, which is probably still at least partially valid. And the links to the airlines will give you the latest official information.
The situation in Italy is alarming, and our thoughts are with those locked down and suffering. Croatia does not have a border with Italy – Slovenia is between the town countries and closed its Italian border last week – but is does have various air and sea connection. Flights to Italy have been suspended, as has the popular Ancona to Split ferry service.
Schools in Istria closed this week, and closures will extend to the rest of the country for an initial two weeks. Lessons will be conducted online/via television. Kindergartens and universities will also close.
Follow our intern Janja Sestak on Instagram @janja_sestak, for live video reports from Zagreb, showing us how the Coronavirus influences the daily-life of Croatian students and Universities.
Having seen the panic buying of toilet paper in Australia, are we seeing similar scenes in Croatia?
There have been photos and videos of empty shelves in Croatian supermarkets posted online – in the spirit of transparency, here is one that was posted on my Facebook wall yesterday, above (Spar in Zagreb, according to the person who posted it). I was curious to see how the toilet paper situation was in my local supermarkets in Varazdin yesterday. Not only could I buy toilet paper, but there are even an extra section offering toilet paper on special. You can see my photo report of my visit to three supermarkets here (which includes the photo below).
So I think it would be fair to say that the situation is far from clear-cut, but there is no real sense of panic that I can see. One other commentator on my wall offered a plausible explanation:
Rijeka also with no supply problems. If you come at the stores in the final working hours, you will find empty shelves but if you come early in the morning they will be filled with stuff.
The super/hyper markets are all understaffed in Croatia and they just can’t refill everything. Btw, in a supermarket in Rijeka today they had more than 100 packs of toilet paper, 6 euro pallets of flour, gallons of oil so no worries.
This is of course the big question that is worrying so many people, in addition to the health risks of coronavirus itself. With more than 20% of Croatia’s GDP dependent on tourism, the stakes are high, and it is clear that the impact will be significant. Valamar temporarily closed some of its hotels in Istria and Dubrovnik yesterday, the first high-profile hotel chain to take such a step, due to reduced demand and the new travel restrictions. The Ryanair announcement for Zadar yesterday is a sign of how the airlines expect the season to be in the short term. It is not really for me to speculate on how much the season will be affected later on this year, as none of us know how this crisis will develop.
12. Where can I find the most current and reliable information about coronavirus in Croatia in English?
As mentioned above, schools, kindergartens and universities have been closed throughout the country, effective Monday, initially for 2 weeks. Meetings of more than 100 people have also been prohibited. Ferries and flights to Italy have been suspended, and there are now self-isolation and quarantine requirements from visitors from certain countries (see section 5, above).
14. What is the general attitude of the Croatian population and government to the 2020 coronavirus crisis?
People will have different opinions as always, but from my point of view, I think the communication and coordination of information by the Croatian Government has been excellent, much better than expected. New Health Minister Vili Beros, who has been in the job just a few weeks, has had a real baptism of fire, and he has coped admirably.
The overall situation I would say is still very calm, although there is now a growing realisation of how much the tourist season will be affected. More people now are talking of self-isolating and taking a personally responsible approach. We have no idea how bad this will get or how long it will last, but Croatian people have a strong sense of community and unity in adversity, and they are used to surviving in difficult circumstances. The strengthening of community bonds could well be an unplanned positive in what is coming.
Dalmatia does not have any cases yet but we were getting lots of Google searches such as ‘is there coronavirus in Sibenik?’ Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar and Hvar also featured heavily. All of these destinations are in the south of the country, in Dalmatia.
And so we decided to create the first corona map of Croatia, where the initial cases Varazdin, Zagreb, Rijeka and Pula were placed. By providing a map of the airports, main tourist destinations, as well as locations where cases have been confirmed, we hope to provide a clearer picture of the current situation in Croatia. This is something that is updated daily, and you can find the latest map on our dedicated section.
A little light-hearted humour in these challenging times.
Is there a coronavirus vaccine? is a term which is becoming increasingly popular, as people desperately search for good news and a resolution to the crisis. We are not aware of any coronavirus vaccine, and it would be global news if it were available. But Croats are a stoic nation and have a time-proven medicine which will kill most unwelcome diseases – rakija.
Stay well, and please contact us on [email protected] Subject Corona if you have any useful additions to the resource above. Follow the latest from TCN on the coronavirus here.