Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer? Amanda from UK on Hvar

Total Croatia News

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April 2, 2020 – Do foreigners in Croatia feel more or less safe sitting out COVID-19 here than in their home country, and what are their experiences? A new series on TCN, with Amanda Blanch from the UK on Hvar as our 14th contributor.

Oxford University recently published some research on government responses to coronavirus which showed that Croatia currently has the strictest measures in the world. While inconvenient, this is a good thing in terms of reducing the spread of the virus, and I am certainly not alone in my admiration of the official Croatian handling of this crisis in recent weeks, both in terms of action and communication. 

But what do other expats here think? And how does it compare with the response in their home country? Would they rather sit this one out here or there? In the first of a new series on TCN, we will be featuring expats from all over the world to see what their views are on life in corona Croatia rather than back home. So far we have heard from expats in Croatia from Romania, USA, Ireland, UK, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Singapore, Canada and Germany. Next up, Brit Amanda Blanch in Stari Grad on Hvar.

If you would like to contribute to this series, full details are below. Now, over to Amanda. 

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Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

To be honest I hadn’t left the island since October apart from visiting Split for the fabulous annual International Women’s Day event (which was utterly wonderful, thank you Tash Pericic). This means isolation comes rather naturally for me, as Stari Grad hides away behind its shutters and its easy to go for days without seeing a soul.

The day after the event I came down with a nasty cough and similar symptoms to the coronavirus so wisely I decided to be careful and didn’t leave the house for 14 days and have only just started feeling human again. (Bad timing to get ill). However having my gorgeous husband Chris Edwardes and our 8 rescue pets nursing me back to health has made things much more bearable, as has having a small terrace so I have been able to get some sun and feel the fresh air whilst looking out to sea… there a better tonic? The other thing keeping me sane is dancing around as if no one is watching in my PJs with my headphones on listening to all my favourite tunes. 

Having a husband who is a cocktail genius also really really helps…..ha ha. 

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What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business?

We own a small boutique hotel (posh bnb I guess) in the centre of the historic town of Star Grad and obviously tourism is one of the sectors that has been decimated due to the virus. We scrape by through 7 months of Winter on what we have made during the Summer months and as the deposits come through we use that to get through until the Spring when the bookings are coming in thick and fast. The main problems we and all of us in the same boat have is that some of the guests who are cancelling want their deposits back and with no bookings now and therefore no income, this is impossible. We really need help financially to be able to survive.

Had it not been for your interview with Mirela I wouldn’t have known that some measures are being put in place for the wages, taxes etc that we pay and have done for 5 years now. I am hoping our accountant will be more forthcoming as so far we have been left in the dark. It is not easy for any of us immigrants trying to learn the whys and wherefores of the Croatian financial systems at the best of times but now we really need some guidance.

Without good solid financial packages in place, there will not be a tourist industry for guests to come back to and I agree with the excellent interview that TCN did with Zoran Pejovic from Paradox Hospitality that we need our tourist board and government to be sending out a clear message to future holidaymakers that we are here and ready for them when the possibility of travel is available again.

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Messages of hope about the many exquisite offerings that Croatia has to offer, not just beach style holidays (although they are stunning) but the National Parks, sporting holidays, and of course our excellent wines and local foods that really are some of the best in the Mediterranean. I don’t know if there will be any season this year but we do need airlines to be looking at offering later flights if there is to be. All of these activates can be done from September through to November and god knows we need anything we can get right now. I also think we need to be looking at more local tourism, looking at countries where guests can drive to us in Croatia.

Some airlines will not survive and the climate crisis will put many people off flying so we need to come up with better marketing as a Country to the rest of Europe rather than further afield. But I digress…….Our other business is Blanch Edwardes Consulting which again has been hit very hard as you cannot consult with bar owners and hotels about cocktails, training staff, design etc when the whole hospitality sector is on its knees. Im not sure how it will survive but we are seeing many hard working and amazing people out there all over the world losing everything that have fought so hard to set up. It is devastating to watch. 

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When did you realise that corona was going to be a big issue? 

I have to be honest, I was way behind my husband, I was a little worried in mid-January but thought that it would be cracked down on and that it was just a strong flu virus. Chris however was reading up and being very aware of the situation. I am rather cynical I’m afraid and thought the press were being rather irresponsible by driving the fear. There is still plenty of that happening but yes this is a very real threat to everybody in the world. We are all in it together. It is breaking my heart to see the appalling way that some countries are handling the crisis. Again well done Croatia and please please stay at home and help the health professionals save lives. 

What is your impression of the way Croatia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

I am extremely proud of the way the Croatian government are handling the whole situation especially with the transparent communication from Vili Beros and Alemka Markotic. Obviously without your amazing work at transiting all of the news we would struggle, but we feel that we have all the facts and subsequently we feel calmer. If only our British government were as transparent and proactive as over here.

My only main worry is that people (especially on the islands) will get bored and become more lax with their self-isolation. My only other concern was that the ferries to the islands should have been stopped earlier as so many people were piling onto Hvar and I’m sure other islands to get away from built-up areas (which I totally understand) from all over Croatia as well as our close neighbouring countries, however with a huge ageing population and no main hospitals this could have caused a major problem. So far we have only had one case (that is confirmed) and so I’m sure we are fine. 

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Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Croatia doing better/worse?

To be honest I am way too angry to get into this right now, unless you want the longest interview ever. Suffice to say the British government has systematically destroyed our NHS (national health system) with 10 years of austerity and by selling it off bit by bit to the private sector. In 2016 we had a large emergency exercise to see how we would do in a pandemic situation. The Government was told then that they were woefully underprepared for any serious threat of a pandemic and they choose to do absolutely nothing about it.

Their bloody-minded Brexit crazy attitude at not wanting anything to do with the EU’s ventilator scheme and wanting to go it alone is criminal and heads should roll over this as well as the lack of testing especially on our front line health workers who are dying every day now for lack of PPE. It is a disgrace and they really should be ashamed of themselves.

Don’t ask for doctors to come out of retirement to aid the struggle and then watch them die as they didn’t have the right equipment. They had known about the dangers of this virus back in early January and there is no excuse for their lack of leadership and mixed messages that many people are still confused by and are not adhering to. The next few weeks will be the most painful thing I will have had to watch from afar as we lose lives unnecessarily. 

Every single decision has been too little too late. I am beyond angry about my home country and am very happy indeed to be now living in Croatia. This is not ideal with my loved ones being stuck over there and I worry every day for my daughter and her partner who are in the centre of London. This plays hard on my worry levels more than anything that is happening in Croatia who deserve much praise for the way they are handling the situation. 

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

No comparison at all, apart from not knowing the inside leg measurement of a person in say Zadar that has the virus I know more due to the excellent communication than I could possibly need to know. Every case, where, how, who has been documented with clear consistent facts.  What we need to do and where to get help and advice etc has been invaluable. Compare this to the muddled incoherent drivel coming out of our supposed leaders mouths in the UK and there you have it. 

However without your gigantuous efforts at TCN on translating such huge amounts of data, we wouldn’t be so informed. Well done for keeping us up to speed. 

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What’s the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation.

A dance mat ……ha ha, oh and my very much missed children.

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis.

That it is ok to just be. I really thought I would be learning more Croatian, reading more books, doing more art, however we put so much pressure on ourselves that maybe this is a forced time to look at where we are in our lives. I’ve been a bit discombobulated over the last few days and I need to be still and take stock. 

We are all stronger than we give ourselves credit for but we also need to have downtime and it is also ok to have a bad day and curl up under a duvet if you need to. I hope we all learn to be kinder human beings and also think very much more about the world we want to live in. 

I am seeing such incredible selfless acts of kindness around the globe and that gives me hope.

Thanks Amanda, stay safe and see you on the other side.  

TCN is starting a new feature series on foreign experiences of sitting out covid-19 here in Croatia compared to their home country. If you would like to contribute, the questions are below. Please also include a para about yourself and where you are from, and a link to your website if you would like. Please also send 3-4 photos minimum to [email protected] Subject Corona Foreigner

If you would be interested to record a video version for our partners please let us know in the email. Thanks and stay safe. 

Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer Than in Your Home Country?

Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business? (PLEASE IGNORE IF THIS DOES NOT AFFECT YOU)

When did you realise that corona was going to be a big issue? 

What is your impression of the way Croatia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Croatia doing better/worse?

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

What’s the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation.

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis. 

TCN has recently become a partner in Robert Tomic Zuber’s new R+ video channel, initially telling stories about corona experiences. You can see the first TCN contribution from this morning, my video from Jelsa talking about the realities of running a news portal in the corona era below. If you would like to also submit a video interview, please find Robert’s guidelines below 


The video footage should be recorded so that the cell phone is turned horizontally (landscape mode).

There are several rules for television and video news:- length is not a virtue- a picture speaks more than a thousand words

In short, this would mean that your story should not last more than 90 seconds and that everything you say in the report should be shown by video (for example, if you talk about empty streets, we should see those empty streets, etc.).

How to do it with your cell phone? First, use a selfie camera to record yourself telling your story for about a minute and a half. Ideally, it would be taken in the exterior, except in situations where you are reporting on things in the interior (quarantine, hospital, self-isolation, etc.). Also, when shooting, move freely, make sure everything is not static.

After you have recorded your report, you should capture footage that will tell your story with a picture, such as an earlier example with empty streets.

One of the basic rules of TV journalism is that the story is told in the same way as a journalist with his text. Therefore, we ask you for additional effort. Because we work in a very specific situation, sometimes you may not be able to capture footage for each sentence of the report. In this case, record the details on the streets: people walking, the main features of the city where you live, inscriptions on the windows related to the virus, etc.

The same rules apply if you are shooting a story from your apartment, self-isolation, quarantine. We also need you to capture footage that describes your story.

When shooting frames to cover your reports, it is important that you change the angle of the shot (in other words, shoot that empty street from several angles). Also, when shooting a detail, count at least five seconds before removing the camera to another detail.

The material should be about 5 minutes long (90 seconds of your report + frames to cover your story).

After recording everything, send us to Zagreb, preferably via WeTransfer to [email protected]



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