Croatian Caterers Announce Lawsuits and Disobedience in Face of Measures

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the government’s decision to extend the lockdown for Croatian caterers, others in the hospitality sector and gyms in the new set of epidemiological measures has met with harsh criticism on the ground, and announcements of civil disobedience, ie opening up facilities despite the continuation of the work ban, have already started.

Although they understand that decisions are made to protect public healh, Croatian caterers don’t understand why everyone can sell coffee to go and coffee outside except cafes. As such, they feel discriminated against and have warned that they can no longer afford to go on in this way financially, especially not without additional subsidies.

The Croatian Employers’ Association says that it will ask the government to extend the existing measures to support Croatian caterers and other business entities to alleviate the pressure caused by the coronavirus crisis even after February, and to do so for as long as the economic consequences of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic remain present. They have also asked that this be so even for those who haven’t had their work banned or limited.

As it is now known, the government recently made a decision to relax measures which restrict sport and other such activities, but this goes only for outdoor activities, and a return to school for all primary school children is also happening. For the economy, the situation remains more or less the same until mid-February, when the measures will be revised again.

”We’re seeking an urgent meeting!’’

“The National Civil Protection Headquarters made this decision because they believe that it isn’t epidemiologically correct to open cafes, because it encourages people gathering together. Furthermore, it was concluded that due to the fact that we failed to create a collective awareness of compliance with the measures, Croatian caterers can’t work because their job also involves personal happiness and individual satisfaction, not just selling items.

We believe that the Headquarters doesn’t actually have a real picture of the situation on the ground and we’ve requested an urgent meeting in this regard. We believe that this decision is not particularly wise, but everyone chooses their own path when it comes to fighting the pandemic.

We do respect these decisions, but for as long as we don’t have adequately implemented financial assistance, we can’t be expected to stop fighting for a fair balance between compliance with epidemiological measures and the financial damage it brings,” stated the National Association of Caterers.

However, as the new president of the association, Jelena Tabak, revealed, the association doesn’t plan to organise or actively encourage any activities which could be classed as civil disobedience, ie opening facilities without the green light from both the Headquarters and the government.

“We aren’t for that, but we won’t be able to control the situation on the ground if it starts to happen. We’ve told those who are our members that whoever opens their doors must be held individually responsible for such a decision,” warned Tabak.

The association is expecting an invitation from the Headquarters and the government, and on the table will be the Croatian caterers’ request to be paid a fee of 3 percent of their annual turnover in order to survive until they can open their doors again. This is a total amount of 450 million kuna of support that they asked for a week ago, but so far they haven’t received a rejection or support from the Government on this topic.

“We also don’t yet have any court decision that the write-off of fixed costs will continue for January and February, and we ask to no have to pay in advance for the services for which we should receive a write-off. We’re seeking an urgent meeting with the Headquarters, to whom we want to explain why the Croatian caterers aren’t encouraging the spread of the infection,” said Jelena Tabak. Croatian caterers are ready to wait for answers to these questions, but only until the middle of next week.

Others have announced a form of ‘revenge’…

The Voice of Entrepreneurs Association (UGP) is much more direct in their views, their president, Hrvoje Bujas, has announced that they will still consult, but various options for finally taking action are being considered, from lawsuits to civil disobedience. Some Croatian caterers have announced the opening of their respective facilities on February the 1st, and have even called for lawsuits against the state.

Their position is that mass opening would not be possible to prevent or sanction, and so they’re calling for just that.

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