Speaking to the press after a cabinet meeting, he said the details of the mild easing of COVID restrictions as of next Monday would be provided by the national COVID response team tomorrow.
Plenković said the sale of coffee to go, which bars would be allowed to sell as of the 15th, did not mean the sale of coffee alone.
“It’s a synonym for the opening of completely closed establishments. It means they will be able to sell tea, some other drink or beverage. They will be able to sell what they have on the menu. It’s just that there will be no sitting on terraces. You take it to go and walk.”
As for compensation for bar and restaurant owners, Plenković said it was too early to say if it would be paid after this month. “If it is possible for them to work, they will work. If the epidemiological situation still isn’t good enough, we’ll continue with the aid.”
He said gyms and fitness centres would reopen on 15 February with epidemiological measures, without crowds, and that betting shops and casinos would have to comply with the same measures.
The opposition keeps politicising
Asked about the opposition’s dissatisfaction with the easing of the restrictions, Plenković said he had no message for them.
Two months ago, he said, the opposition demanded the closure of everything and now they are demanding the opening of everything. “That’s politicising that doesn’t surprise me. If they won’t be responsible, we will.”
He also commented on the participation of Alemka Markotić, a member of the national COVID response team, in a religious service in the open with more people attending than the 25 allowed under COVID restrictions.
Plenković said it was an outdoor service and that he was confident everyone present took care of distancing. “We have to be realistic in such situations, if they are in the open, distance is kept, people don’t stay there,” he said, adding that there had been many such gatherings and that the restriction of 25 people still applied.
Plenković said that event could not be compared to a restaurant in Zagreb which worked recently despite a ban. “Restaurants weren’t allowed to work at all. Being outdoors and indoors is not the same.”
The government won’t interfere in decisions on Zagreb University rector
Asked if Zagreb University rector Damir Boras should go because he received a COVID vaccine despite not being in a priority vaccination category, the prime minister said such decisions were in the remit of the university, which was autonomous, and that the government would not interfere.
He said the vaccine was primarily being administered to health workers and patients, adding that if any was left in a vial, it was given to someone else so that it did not go to waste.
Plenković reiterated that those who needed it the most would be vaccinated en masse and that the AstraZeneca vaccine was as effective as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.
“It’s important that we have faith and trust in the decisions of the World Health Organization, the European Medicines Agency and experts who have assessed that all three vaccines circulating in Croatia as equally effective for what is important. It’s important to be vaccinated so as not to die of COVID-19.”
Plenković said a decision was made to ease restrictions this month because it was estimated that the epidemiological situation allowed it. He added, however, that if there was a deterioration, the restrictions could be tightened.
“The goal is to go through the winter months with as few consequences as possible so that during the spring, notably in the two remaining months of the first quarter and the three months of the second quarter, we vaccinate as many people as possible.”
Plenković said he would insist on the fastest delivery possible of all vaccine doses so that Croatia could be as protected and safe as possible by summer.
“If we are protected and if other countries vaccinate, and all intend to vaccinate as many people as possible, then the arrival of tourists will be safe. Few will come somewhere they don’t feel safe and others don’t want to import people who could be contagious,” he said, adding that the EU would continue talks on this to find a common solution.
Filipović is HDZ’s first and only choice for Zagreb mayor
Asked about his party’s candidate for Zagreb mayor, Davor Filipović, Plenković said he expected him to win and that he was the HDZ’s first and only choice for that post, adding that the party had talked about but that it had not negotiated with Damir Vanđelić, the temporary director of the post-earthquake Reconstruction Fund, about being the HDZ’s mayoral nominee.
Asked to evaluate President Zoran Milanović’s first year in office, Plenković said “Everyone does their job their own way.”
Plenković did not wish to reveal how much Croatia had offered Hungary for energy group MOL’s stake in Croatia’s INA.
He said the procurement of fighter jets was continuing. “There is no long-term delay with the aircraft, just a logical, reasonable non-adoption of a decision in the month behind us.”