Policy responses for Croatia - HSRM


Policy responses for Croatia

6. Measures in other sectors

6.1 Measures in other sectors

Many MEASURES IN OTHER SECTORS beyond the immediate scope of the health system are being taken to prevent further spread of the virus. This section contains information on many of these areas, including border and travel restrictions and economic and fiscal measures, among others.

• Borders

As of 11 May, the National Civil Protection Headquarters lifted the ban on leaving the place of residence and permanent residence in the Republic of Croatia. This means that people no longer need an e-pass to travel to another city or municipality. The island of Brač was excluded from the decision, due to an outbreak of COVID-19 on the island (see section 5.1 on Measures in other sectors).

The National Civil Protection Headquarters has introduced certain changes regarding the border crossings of the Republic of Croatia. Due to the favorable epidemiological situation, as of 28 May, travellers from the following EU Member States are allowed to enter Croatia: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Germany and the Slovak Republic. Epidemiological control is still in force at the borders and all citizens have the obligation to adhere to the general and specific recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

On 30 June, the National Civil Protection Headquarters adopted a Decision on a temporary ban on crossing the borders of the Republic of Croatia. The ban does not apply to citizens of EU Member States and third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the Republic of Croatia.

The decision on the ban on crossing the border of the Republic of Croatia is currently in force, and will be applied until 30 September 2020.

A new decision baning border crossings was made on 30 November and applies from 1 December 2020. The measure has been extended until 15 January 2021.

On 13 January 2021, the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia decided that the ban on crossing the border would apply until 15 February 2021.

A temporary ban and restriction on crossing the borders of the Republic of Croatia was applied until 28 February 2021.

On 31 March 2021, the National Civil Protection Headquarters adopted a Decision on a temporary ban on crossing the borders of the Republic of Croatia. The decision applies from 1 to 15 April 2021. Below is a link to the document with a list of restrictive measures currently in force, as well as recommendations for specific population groups: https://civilna-zastita.gov.hr/UserDocsImages/CIVILNA%20ZA%C5%A0TITA/PDF_ZA%20WEB/Odluka%20-%20prelazak%20granice%20RH%20-%20nova30.11.pdf.

• Mobility
Domestic and foreign citizens can enter and leave the Republic of Croatia in compliance with the measures prescribed by the Croatian Institute of Public Health.
Croatian citizens can enter or leave Croatia for so-called “necessary reasons”.
Citizens of EU countries can enter Croatia if they have a justified reason (economic activities, business meetings, tourists…).

The self-isolation measure for the duration of 14 days is no longer implemented for Croatian citizens. Instead, upon entry into the Republic of Croatia, they are given a leaflet by the border police in which they are notified that they are obligated to adhere to general and special recommendations and instructions by the Croatian Institute of Public Health, which recommends that they should limit their interaction with other persons from their area and only carry out the most urgent tasks outside of their homes during the 14-day period from the date they entered into the Republic of Croatia. These procedures also apply to foreign nationals who are allowed entry into the Republic of Croatia under special conditions.

From 21 May, all foreign citizens who intend to enter the Republic of Croatia, as well as Croatian citizens who do not have a permanent or temporary residence in the Republic of Croatia, can find all frequently asked questions and answers about the conditions of entry into the Republic of Croatia on the official website of the Ministry of the Interior, under the category UZG COVID. The page and online form are currently available in Croatian, English and German, and will be expanded to other foreign languages.

On 18 December, the Civil Protection Headquarters issued a Decision on the prohibition of leaving the county according to the place of residence or stay in the Republic of Croatia. There is a possibility of going to another county only with the possession of an E-pass issued by the county headquarters according to the place of residence or stay.

The ban on leaving the county does not apply to:
• The staff necessary to maintain traffic and supply;
• Daily migrations of employees in services important for: provision of health and veterinary protection, delivery of medicines and sanitary material, maintenance of communal activities, water supply and drainage, gas and electricity supply, security services;
• Reporting to the public;
• Patients requiring medical care;
• Travel to and from work if the job cannot be performed from home;
• Emergency and operational services involved in preventing the spread of COVID-19 disease;
• Diplomatic staff.
This decision came into force on 23 December 2020.

On 29 December 2021, a strong earthquake hit Sisak-Moslavina County. The earthquake was felt throughout Croatia and in neighboring countries, and was followed by a series of earthquakes of lower intensity. Due to this extraordinary situation, on 29 December 2021, the Civil Protection Headquarters made a decision to repeal the Decision on the prohibition of leaving the county according to the place of residence or stay in the Republic of Croatia.

• Economy

Due to the favourable epidemiological situation in the Republic of Croatia, on 23 April, the Prime Minister announced the reactivation of economy and other activities that will take place in three phases:

o The first phase began on 27 April. Within this phase, the following business entities were enabled to work: shops (except those operating within a shopping centre); service activities, e.g. a shoemaker, a tailor, key maker, travel agencies, photo studio; public urban and suburban transport lines; libraries, museums, galleries, antique shops and bookstores; trainings of I and II category athletes in individual sports

o The second phase began on 4 May, when children's playgrounds, outdoor sports fields and other outdoor sports facilities were opened, following general anti-epidemic measures and special recommendations and instructions issued by the Croatian Institute of Public Health. From the same date, the public hospital system has gradually begun to return to its pre-epidemic state. Hospitals are starting to contact all patients on the waiting lists (priority is given to patients who were postponed in March and April 2020). As of 4 May, the use of masks is now mandatory on all Croatia Airlines flights.

o The third phase started on 11 May. It involves gatherings of up to 10 people, operation of shopping centres, kindergartens, and schools. From 11 May, internal flights have started to operate again on the following routes within Croatia: Zagreb - Split, Split - Zagreb, Zagreb - Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik – Zagreb.

On October 20, the continuation of measures to preserve jobs was presented. According to the Croatian Employment Service, almost HRK 7 billion, or HRK 6.85 billion, has been paid so far for various measures to preserve jobs.

New changes include:

1. A measure of part-time work
• Less documentation, with the possibility of reducing working hours from 50 to 70%
• The possibility of maximum support increases from HRK 2,000 to HRK 2,800 per worker per month, with an exemption from paying contributions for that month
2. A measure for micro-entrepreneurs
• The measure for micro-entrepreneurs (up to 10 employees) is added to the measure for preserving jobs in vulnerable sectors, which enables support of more than HRK 2,000 per worker (as it has been so far)
3. A measure to preserve jobs
• Graduation of aid in accordance with the fall in turnover, from 40% and 2000 HRK per worker, to 60% and 4000 HRK per worker, with exemption from paying the related contributions
• The aid is extended to sectors not included in July, August and September such as crop and livestock production, fisheries and related service activities
The measures will be in force from October 1 until the end of 2020.

The Ministry of Tourism has issued measures to help the economy deal with the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic. It agreed to exempt all private renters from paying the tourist tax.

• Education
Due to the favourable epidemiological situation, certain changes have been introduced in the organization and operation of schools. Schools are proceeding with activities related to the determination of physical and mental condition when enrolling in the first school year. During the testing, schools are required to adhere to appropriate epidemiological measures. From 25 May, classes have been made available for all children from 1st to 4th grade. Parents who still have reasons why they do not want to send their children to school may include the child in school teaching groups later on, but in the meantime they must provide conditions at home for distance learning and be in daily contact with teachers and assistants from the school. For higher classes, distance learning will be provided until the end of the school year.

• Cross-border collaboration
Due to the similar epidemiological situation in Slovenia and Croatia, the two countries have agreed to reopen borders at several border crossings. The borders are open to all EU citizens, under the condition that they have not been outside Europe in the last 14 days.
As of 15 June 2020, the border crossings between Croatia and Slovenia have fully reopened.

• Borders

As of 18 March, all cross-border train travel was suspended. As of 12 March, any citizen travelling to Croatia from narrowly defined COVID-19 affected areas was mandated to spend 14 days in self-isolation or in official government quarantine facilities. For people entering Croatia for 72 hours, in addition to the measure of self-isolation, which has been a mandatory condition so far, an additional condition will be a PCR test which must be negative and taken within the past 24 hours.
The E-pass system was established on 1 April 2020, but was abolished on 20 April 2020 at the request of local authorities. By abolishing this measure, citizens are again able to move freely within their county. However, e-pass is still required in order to leave the county (https://civilna-zastita.gov.hr/vijesti/odluke-o-ukidanju-nuzne-mjere-zabrane-napustanja-mjesta-prebivalista-i-stalnog-boravka/2417).

The Murter Island was quarantined from 25 March to April 18. The municipality of Udbina was under lockdown from 11 April to April 27. A new case of quarantine is the island of Brač, which will be under lockdown for 14 days, starting on 9 May.

• Mobility (transport)

Carriers (drivers) and cross-border workers (those who work in neighbouring countries such as Italy, Slovenia, Austria) can do their job however with secured medical surveillance (when they are not driving or when returning to the country they have to go in self-isolation).

Due to a temporary prohibition of movement, the government provided only commercial flights for the return of Croatian citizens temporarily located in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden (source: https://mmpi.gov.hr/vijesti-8/vlada-rh-osigurala-repatrijacijske-komercijalne-letove-za-povratak-hrvatskih-drzavljana-iz-italije-portugala-spanjolske-i-svedske/22166).

• Economy
The Government of Croatia has adopted a new set of measures on 2 April in order to protect current jobs, provide help to entrepreneurs as well as maintain the general stability of the Croatian economy. 

All ministries are reallocating their funds in order to rescue the economy and support the population.

By using new measures, the Government decided to postpone the payment of income tax and contributions for pension and health insurance.

The Minister of Finance announced the approval of new liquidity loans to economic entities to finance wages, overheads and other basic operating costs, so-called cold drives, in cooperation with commercial banks.

Banks introduced a three-month moratorium on loan repayment. Also, banks decided not to enforce foreclosure on the debt of any company or citizen.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many restaurants, cafes and hotels have closed, leading to an increase in the number of unemployed people. The Croatian Employment Service has decided to provide unemployment benefits.

In order to help small family farms, several local units/individuals have launched an online platform, more specifically a virtual marketplace offering products from family farms. Since the closure of markets had a direct impact on the business of small farmers, the idea of the platform was to promote and support local farmers in marketing their products. On 8 April, the National Civil Protection Headquarters permits the operation of closed facilities within the markets (including the sale of fruits and vegetables, fish, agricultural medicines etc.) but with strict measures of maintaining physical distance (document https://civilna-zastita.gov.hr/UserDocsImages/CIVILNA%20ZA%C5%A0TITA/PDF_ZA%20WEB/Odluka%20-%20tr%C5%BEnice.pdf).

• State aid
o Welfare benefits and other support to individuals, including sick pay, cash transfers, housing relief

CHIF approved sickness benefit during self-isolation measures for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 (who have been in close contact with an infected person or have travelled or lived in high-risk areas during the last 14 days). Self-isolation fee is around 4000 kn. For healthcare professionals, it was decided that if the measure of self-isolation was due to exposure at work, compensation will be the average of wages in the last 3 months.

Also, the Croatian Health Insurance Fund has opened up the possibility of obtaining salary compensation for those who are suffering from COVID-19. The Department of Occupational Medicine of the Croatian Institute of Public Health will evaluate each case in accordance with the rules of the profession on the basis of medical records and occupational exposure.

o Financial support / guarantees for businesses
In order to preserve jobs for employers whose economic activity has been disrupted by COVID-19, the Government has made a decision on grants per employee for a period of three months. The aim is to help small craftsmen (manufacturing industry, transport and storage, restaurants, cafes etc.) who are currently unable to perform their activities in accordance with the decisions of the National Civil Protection Headquarters. The amount of support was HRK 3,250, but it was raised to HRK 4,000 per month per worker. The state will pay all taxes for this amount.
o Home education support

Since 16 March 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, regular school teaching has been replaced with online teaching. A distance learning programme was first implemented in Istria county, and since 18 March, the programme has been conducted in the other counties of Croatia. The national television programme forms part of the distance learning programme and at 8 am classes are being held for students from 1st to 4th grade of elementary school. RTL Croatia is the second TV entity that supports the distance learning programme. The Ministry of Science and Education, in collaboration with RTL, began broadcasting classes for high school students on the RTL2 programme. Classes are held from 8 am to 12 pm.

• Civil protection:
o Declaration of state of emergency

Shortly after the WHO declared the pandemic of COVID-19 (on 11 March), the Government, supported by parliament, decided to increase the authority of the National Civil Protection Headquarters. This authority is the central decision-making body that coordinates the work of all relevant government departments.

o Deployment of military resources

As part of the Homeland Security system, the Croatian army is assisting the Ministry of Health by providing additional facilities for patient care by setting up a self-sustaining expeditionary camp in front of Dubrava Clinical hospital (19 March).

• Cross-border collaboration

The Republic of Croatia and Hungary agree to mitigate common border-crossing measures (from 31 March 2020). The measures apply to citizens of both countries who reside in a border area within 30 kilometres of the border or are employed by a company established in that area. They are allowed to cross the border every day or when needed (source: https://mup.gov.hr/vijesti/nove-mjere-prelazenja-zajednicke-granice-za-pojedine-drzavljane-republike-hrvatske-i-madjarske/286134).
Croatia also has an agreement with Slovenia on crossing the border for the purpose of working on their own land. A person can cross the border, but is obliged to comply with all epidemiological measures to reduce the possibility of infection with COVID-19.