On Monday 11, Croatia has massively eased many lockdown measurements that were taken previously in order to stop the spread of the novel virus SARS-CoV-2.
So we thought it is a good idea to share with you information regarding coronavirus in Croatia. If you had your holidays planned in Croatia for later this year, or if you have a property in Croatia, you might be interested to know what the current situation in the country is.
Coronavirus in Croatia overview
Croatia got its first confirmed case of COVID-19 disease on the 25th of February 2020. This case could be directly traced to the soccer game between Valencia and Atalanta that took place in Milan, on February, 19th.
However, since then up to May, 13, we had 2.213 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 94 deaths. At the moment, there are 379 active cases of COVID-19 infection in Croatia.
On the map below you can see the number of confirmed cases in each Croatian region. For the updated map, please check the Koronavirus.hr. They update the map, on their website, daily, after 3 pm. And their website is also in English.
In Istria where we live, up until now, we had 92 confirmed cases and 2 deaths. We even went 23 days (April, 20 – May, 12) without any new case confirmed. And on May, 3rd we were officially corona-free county, meaning that we didn't have any active case. But now we got two new cases from people who came into Croatia on a flight from Frankfurt, but luckily were self-isolating and had no social contacts since arriving in Croatia.
Taking the whole situation in the account, we can say that Croatia is doing relatively fine. Less than 580 cases per million, and less than 24 deaths per million residents. Even New Your Times wrote about that in their Europe’s Battle-Hardened Nations Show Resilience in Virus Fight article.
How was the lockdown in Croatia?
The government implemented strict lockdown measurements very early before other European countries did so. We were in Spain at the time of the outbreak in Italy and decided to cut our vacation short to come to Croatia ASAP. We left Spain on the 12th of March and arrived in Croatia late at night on the 14th of March. We were put in mandatory 14-day quarantine. And, in my opinion, that was the right thing to do. Both, the Government and the citizens took the measurements seriously and respected them. The police were physically checking on people in quarantine, and they fined the ones who didn’t respect the quarantine.
In the beginning, all unnecessary businesses were shut down. Only alimentary stores, pharmacies, kiosks, gas stations, and DIY stores were open (Don’t even ask how they got judged essential?! But, the construction never stopped during the lockdown.).
Also, we didn’t close the beaches as they did in Spain or France. I don’t see the point in closing down the beaches, so I was happy that the epidemiologists and I had the same point of view on this one!
We could always move freely within our municipality. For example, we could go from our apartment to Porec without any problem. We had a police checkpoint at one place and all we had to do is show through the window our ID with a local address. No questions asked. However, people were responsible and nobody went out unless it was really necessary.
Then, from the 18th of April, we were allowed to move freely within our own county. So for us, that meant that we could go everywhere in Istria. Although, we still didn’t go anywhere. But hey, it’s nice to have a choice.
The further easing of lockdown measurements started on April, 27, and it was planned gradually in 3 phases, each one week apart from the other.
Phase 1, April 27, 2020
Phase 1 saw the opening of all commerces except the non-alimentary stores located within shopping malls, and all services that didn’t require close contact with the customers (like travel agencies, photographers, shoemaker, etc). Some sportsmen could start training again, and public transport started operating as well as fast boat lines between certain islands.
Churches opened doors for worship services on May, 2. And it made some controversy as churches opened before the schools. Anyways, I don't intend to get all political here. I am just giving you an overview of the situation in Croatia regarding the coronavirus.
Phase 2, May 4, 2020
A week later, on May 4, phase 2 started. We saw even more restrictions on movement and businesses being eased. Most importantly, all hospitals were back to receiving patients, as well as private clinics, diagnostic centers, and all other health care services. Other services like hairdressers, manicurists, massagists, and all remaining services also opened for business.
Phase 3, May 11, 2020
The third and the last phase started on May 11 and it included the opening of elementary schools for kids in 1st to 4th grade (7 to 11 years old), bars, restaurants, shopping malls, national parks, the inter-city transport including buses, planes, and trains. Also, up to 40 people can gather together. Sports centers started operating on May 13, and swimming pools, theaters, and cinemas will start operating on May 18.
Croatia has also opened the borders for anybody who's got a good reason to enter Croatia and they also removed mandatory quarantine for those coming to Croatia from other countries. The definition of a good reason is a bit vague but generally, having a property, a business, or a boat in Croatia is considered a good reason to come to Croatia, and so are business reasons and interests, or if you have to attend a funeral, or any other urgent personal reason.
All other reasons will be considered, but you need first to send a request to a Border Administration officer via e-mail to uzg.covid(at)mup.hr. You will need to have with you documentation that proves your valid reasons to enter Croatia. Croatian border police will be checking this and can refuse you the entrance in case you don't provide some kind of proof.
Anyway, while we are happy that the country is easing the lockdown, and we are getting back to normal little by little, we are also concerned about removing mandatory quarantine measurement. The majority of the last cases in Croatia were from the people who came from abroad and were self-isolating. This made the virus controllable. Now when people don't need to self-isolate, the question is if we will start having a second wave. But we hope people who come to Croatia will remain responsible and behave accordingly. We also believe that warmer weather and above all the sun will help naturally slow down the virus. Only the time will tell!
[LATEST UPDATE, MAY 21 2020]: Tourists can officially enter Croatia
The situation regarding coronavirus keeps improving in Croatia. Now we don't get more than 1 to 2 new conformed COVID-19 cases a day. More people are recovering and at the moment we have 2234 total cases, 1978 out of which have already recovered 160 active cases, and 96 deaths.
Between May 11 when the Croatian government has eased the measurements and May 16, 2020, 15.000 foreigners entered Croatia. Half of them are Slovenians.
Since last Monday, May 18, 2020, it's officially confirmed that the booking confirmation of any Croatian accommodation provider (hotels, camping, vacation rentals, villas, etc.) is a valid reason to enter Croatia. All you need to do is to show your confirmation at the border. If you are transiting through Slovenia on your way to Croatia, in Slovenia you will need to sign a statement that you will just pass through the country and not stop.
You'll need to wait a little bit at the border, especially on weekends, but border police officials are working on improving and speeding up the procedure in order to cut waiting time at the border.
Ask us anything you would like to know regarding the coronavirus in Croatia!