1.2 Physical distancing
As of 4 May, service activities such as hairdressers, pedicurists and barbers began to operate again.
As of 11 May, the decision to restrict public gatherings, service activities and the maintenance of sport and cultural events is being changed. At the moment, gatherings are limited to 40 people. Libraries, museums, galleries, antique shops and bookstores have reopened, and rehearsals of artists and cultural workers have resumed. Shopping centres started operating on the same date and schools have opened for pre-school classes, 1st to 4th grade classes, and work with children with disabilities. Bus and rail traffic, as well as internal flights, have resumed.
As of 13 May, all courts and gyms are open, and the pools start working from 18 May. Theaters and cinemas will also start operating on 18 May.
As of 25 May, the first phase of mitigation of measures in the prison system has begun.
Due to the favourable epidemiological situation, the ban on work on Sundays is lifted, in compliance with general measures and specific instructions and recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.
As of 27 May, the ban on public events and gatherings with more than 40 people will be lifted. The number of people at certain public events and gatherings will be determined according to the recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.
Sports competitions will be held without the presence of spectators, from 30 May in open and 13 June in indoor facilities.
From 29 May, other guests, in addition to family and witnesses, can attend marriage ceremonies.
On 7 June, the National Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia made certain changes in the operation of shops during the COVID-19 outbreak. They abolished the mandatory one-hour break between two shifts that was introduced to change workers and clean and disinfect the space for shops that operate double shifts.
Due to the favourable epidemiological situation, from 15 June the sports competitions can be maintained in the presence of spectators. Since there is still need for caution, the Croatian Institute for Public Health has made recommendations on how spectators will be able to attend sports competitions.
On 24 June, certain changes were made in the organization of public transport during the COVID-19 outbreak. Drivers, other employees in public transport, as well as passengers, are obliged to use face masks during their stay in the vehicle and to adhere to general anti-epidemic measures and special recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.
Due to the rapid increase in the number of infected people in the Republic of Croatia, testing of employees and users in the social welfare system for COVID-19 has been intensified, with special emphasis on institutions that care for older people and people with disabilities. Until further notice, visits to institutions that provide accommodation in the social welfare system are prohibited.
Given the epidemiological situation, the National Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia has issued a Decision on the mandatory use of face masks or medical masks during the COVID-19 outbreak. It applies from 13 July 2020. Face masks or medical masks are mandatory for:
• Employees of health facilities and persons visiting patients, if visits are allowed;
• Drivers, other employees as well as passengers in public transport;
• Commercial employees and customers during their stay in shops;
• Employees in the catering business that come into contact with guests or participate in serving and preparing meals or drinks.
Currently, there is no form of penalty for those who do not wear masks in designated institutions. Instead the National Civil Protection Headquarters has shifted focus to educating citizens about the importance of applying preventive measures, such as masks, during the COVID-19 outbreak.
On 13 August, the National Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia issued a decision on the measure of limiting the working hours of catering facilities from the category "Bars", such as night clubs, night bars, disco bars, coffee bars, etc. They are allowed to work up to 24 hours. This measure came into force on 14 August and will be maintained for an initial period of 10 days, after which, depending on the epidemiological situation, the State Headquarters will determine whether there is a need to introduce additional measures.
Given that the number of infected people significantly varies between counties, Local Civil Protection Headquarters have been given more authority in decision-making at local and regional level. Also, they have the opportunity to decide on the period of application of measures in the county or a particular municipality. In accordance with the development of the epidemiological situation, the Local Civil Protection Headquarters introduce specific epidemiological measures related to the organization of wedding ceremonies, private celebrations, funerals, social gatherings and the work and organization of restaurants, clubs and other institutions belonging to municipalities/counties.
Due to the beginning of the new school year, there is a need for enhanced communication between local and regional civil protection headquarters and representatives of educational institutions for the purpose of taking all the necessary epidemiological measures.
On October 12, 2020, due to the deteriorating epidemiological situation, the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia made new decisions regarding the use of face masks indoors and the organization of social and public gatherings. Organizers of social gatherings are required to seek approval from the local civil protection headquarters on organising the events. Also, the decision of the National Civil Protection Headquarters determined the obligation of wearing face masks in all indoor areas.
Recommendations for maintaining physical distance began in mid-February. Initially, the recommendation to avoid public gatherings was given to people who had returned from high-risk areas (China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Iran, Lombardy, Veneto,..). At the beginning of March, the Croatian Institute of Public Health made a recommendation to keep a distance of at least one metre. On 9 March, a new package of measures was adopted, which included postponing meetings and organized gatherings attended by more than 1,000 people. Shorty after, it was suggested that it would be better to maintain a distance of at least two metres from other people. Also, in the second round of restrictive measures, only 100 people were allowed on any gatherings.
The “Stay at home“ campaign was launched in mid-March. The aim of the campaign was to emphasize the importance of adhering to the guidelines of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, which included limiting social contacts and staying at home in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The campaign has been carried out through a number of information messages that can be found on all television channels and through a stay-at-home hashtag at the top of each programme. On 5 May, the campaign was replaced by a new "stay responsible" campaign.
On 21 February, a quarantine was established at the University Hospital for Infectious Diseases “Dr. Fran Mihaljevic Zagreb” for anyone who had been in close contact with people who are suspected or infected by COVID-19. On 10 March, the decision was made to establish quarantine areas in other Croatian counties. For example, the Arena Zagreb had the status of quarantine until May 4. Several hospitals in Croatia have converted wards for the admission of coronavirus-infected patients. If the number of infected patients exceeds existing capacities, patients will be taken care of in the premises of Arena Zagreb, a sports hall that has been transformed into a makeshift medical facility.
From the very beginning, the goverment recognized the importance of preserving the health and welfare of the most vulnerable population, i.e. older people. On 3 March, the Croatian Institute of Public Health issued a recommendation for protecting the health of people aged 60 years and over and of people suffering from chronic diseases. In order to keep older people as safe as possible and to enable them to stay at home, there are several organizations (most notably the Croatian Red Cross) who provide food and medicines to their doorsteps. On 27 March, the Croatian Institute of Public Health issued specific guidelines to prevent and control the outbreak of infections in nursing homes, as well as other institutions within the welfare system. On 11 April, the Croatian Institute of Public Health issued additional instructions concerning nursing homes, as well as any other similar institution that provides social welfare. The instructions apply to the residents and to the organization of work of medical and non-medical health professionals within the institution. They banned family visits or any other departure of residents outside the institution. Also, they introduced strict recommendations of work organisation of all medical and non-medical health professionals (https://mdomsp.gov.hr/vijesti-8/upute-za-sprecavanje-i-suzbijanje-epidemije-covid-19-za-pruzatelje-socijalnih-usluga-u-sustavu-socijalne-skrbi/12708?fbclid=IwAR3iqy4W37CnHdZfRo3H4-ykLaWGpQes1CUFggVYwXDwq5ZSQYKJmVN3Leg).
All non-essential businesses were ordered to shut. As of 19 March, the Government is implementing extensive measures of physical distancing. These measures include banning public gatherings of more than five individuals, the closure of restaurants, cafes, bars, night-clubs, shopping centres, sports and fitness centres, museums, cinemas, theatres, places of worship, hairdressers, beauty parlors and similar services where close human contact can be expected. Grocery stores, pharmacies, petrol stations, and supermarkets will continue to be open applying measures of physical distancing. From 22 March, supermarkets are open from 8am to 5pm. These restrictions are currently limited for 30 days. The decision on closing down playgrounds and open sports fields was issued on 20 March 2020.
As of 13 March, classes were suspended in all educational institutions in Istria county, because this Croatian region is the closest to Italy. In other Croatian counties, classes in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and universities have been suspended for a period of two weeks from 16 March 2020.
As of 22 March, all public transportation except for individual taxi services has been suspended for 30 days. Some ferry lines that connect islands with the major coastal cities like Split, Sibenik, Zadar, and Dubrovnik will remain open, but only for individuals having registered residences in one of the islands or in Peljesac peninsula.
Also, non-essential public activities are strictly forbidden. This decision applies to streets, squares, parks and all other public areas where people gather.
Starting on 23 March, intercity travel and vehicular traffic is suspended, with the exception of employees of essential services, transport of essential goods, media reporting, commuting to essential employment that cannot be done from home, emergency medical care, and vital family reasons.
On 17 April, the National Civil Protection Headquarters in cooperation with the Croatian Institute of Public Health issued measures and activities for fire department personnel regarding their implementation of interventions.
The National Civil Protection Headquarters decided that all introduced measures will be applicable by May 4 after which they will reconsider the epidemiological situation and take further decisions.