Politics 1 Health 0: Is Croatia about to Throw It All Away?

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May 13, 2020 – Politics 1 Health 0. With the tourist season due to start and elections approaching, the surprising realities on the ground in Croatia in the battle against COVID-19. 

As we have reported since late January, Croatia has done an excellent job containing the coronavirus, both in terms of effective measures, and in clear and transparent communication. We are all grateful for the extraordinary efforts of Vili and Alemka and the rest of the team. Heroes all. 

The initial focus of dealing with the disease was health, health, health. It did not take long, however, for the sheer enormity of the economic consequences to come into the equation. The debate shifted from health protection to one with two camps – one advocating lockdown and health protection at all costs, the other advocating a relaxing of measures to allow the economy to breathe, people to earn a living and avert economic catastrophe. 

And this being Croatia, it did not take long for a third factor to come into the equation – one which could well be s bigger deciding factor than the economy and health combined – politics. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for July.

I am not a health expert, and my wife will confirm I am certainly no economic expert, and I have no politics. My opinion doesn’t matter, and I long ago wrote that the only two corona voices I listen to are Jurgen Klopp and Igor Rudan

That is my choice, and I am happy with my choice, and as I don’t speak with any authority, I see no reason to foist my opinions on corona on the world, in the same way that I feel I DO have something to contribute to the Croatian tourism and digital nomad debate with my opinions, for example. 

What I can do, however, and I think TCN has done a great job, is report on the corona story in Croatia. Especially things that are happening under the radar that people should be aware of. 

Croatia relaxed its measures for the third consecutive week on Monday, a move which allowed much more freedom of travel, visits to cafes etc. This is the background and context to my story. 

A couple of days ago, we reported on the story of a Belgian called Didier, who managed to drive from Belgium to Gromin Dolac on Hvar during the height of the pandemic. With a residence, business and registered car on Hvar, he was able to get all the permits, on condition that he went into 14-day self-isolation on arrival. My wife’s family first started hosting Didier’s family almost 50 years ago, and so I know him quite well. He is extremely responsible and also had one of the best self-isolation spots in Europe – his gorgeous Castaway Hvar complex in a remote part of southern Hvar. 

Didier wrote a really detailed and fascinating account of his journey from Belgium to Hvar, including details on getting permits, border crossings etc. He arrived on Hvar on May 8, 5 days ago, and he immediately went into self-isolation in his Castaway paradise. The very efficient Hvar police came to check on him the next day to make sure he was in fact observing the self-isolation. All good so far. You can read his account here.

That was five days ago. So it was something of a surprise to see Didier, the responsible Belgian, walking through Jelsa’s main square today on his way to the bank. Belgium, remember, has the highest death rate per million in the entire world. And here he was, five days into his 14-day self-isolation. WTF? I know how responsible he is. 

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He greeted me warmly from distance, informing me that he had received an SMS at 19:29 last night from the Ministry of the Interior informing him that he was no longer required to self-isolate. The SMS is above, the translation below.  

Dear Sir, We would like to inform you that the measure of self-isolation given to you by the border police of the Republic of Croatia has been suspended.

If you have been/given the fact that you have been outside of the Republic of Croatia for the last 14 days, you are obliged to follow the recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, which were delivered to you at the border crossing, for 14 days after entering Croatia.

You can find additional messages regarding the recommendations on the official website of the CNIPH.

Perhaps the epidemiological advice has changed in the last 4 days, and an arrivee from a country with the highest death rate per capita in the world no longer needs to self-isolate for 14 days.

When it comes to corona knowledge, I am more Jurgen Klopp than Igor Rudan.  

And all I can do is report what I see.

For the latest on the coronavirus crisis in Croatia, visit the dedicated TCN section


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