ZAGREB, Nov 28 (Hina) – Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in his address on Friday ahead of the enforcement of tighter restrictions that due to the global COVID-19 pandemic Croatia has been adjusting its social activities, economy, and management of current affairs to protect the health and lives of its citizens.
“The coronavirus pandemic has hit the whole world this year, and changed our way of life,” the premier said, adding that this was why Croatia, just as other countries, has been modifying its social activities, economy, and management of current affairs for the sake of the protection of the health and lives of its citizens.
With the arrival of the autumn, the pandemic has become more intense in Europe and therefore we have ramped up the restrictions, he said in the televised address.
“Our struggle against the coronavirus infection is based on the trust between citizens and the state.”
So far, the authorities have tried to preserve an as normal a way of life for citizens as possible, trying to avoid a total lockdown of the economy and imposition of a curfew which many European countries are currently applying, he said.
Plenkovic recalled that the rise in weekly coronavirus numbers decelerated at the start of November, however, in the last seven days Croatia saw a 15-percent growth, and on Thursday the number of new infections with coronavirus surpassed 4,000 for the first time.
In this context, the new measures have been taken and the latest restrictions go into force as of Friday midnight, and Plenkovic underscored that the purpose of these anti-COVID measures is “to protect public health, save human lives and reduce the strain on the healthcare system.”
“For us to succeed in that, we must do our utmost to protect those who are at the highest risk of infection, and we must raise awareness of the danger stemming from the novel virus.”
To corroborate his claims, Plenkovic cited statistical data showing that one in 58 people diagnosed with COVID-19 would die and that one in nine hospitalised COVID-patents, unfortunately, pass away.
He underscored that the new set of restrictions would be in force at least until 21 December, and they may be extended unless the current trend is reversed in the meantime.
The latest measures include the lockdown of cafes, restaurants, fitness gyms, casinos, gaming machine facilities, and betting outlets. All fairs and other commercial and tourism events for the promotion of products, wedding parties, and similar events are banned. Bakeries can stay open until 10 pm and the sale of alcohol is prohibited between 10 pm and 6 am. There are restrictions limiting audiences to 25 persons. Only 40% of capacities in public transport may be used while transport providers need to identify available seats and both drivers and passengers are obliged to wear masks, properly at that.
Government promises new support measures to businesses affected by latest restrictions
The Prime Minister expressed regret at the adverse effect of those restrictions to many businesses and workers who have already felt the consequences of the economic downturn.
“I can understand the dissatisfaction of those who are forced to suspend their business activities due to the epidemiological situation. These restrictive measures concern an estimated 85,000 workers, that is 5.5% of all employed people in Croatia,” Plenkovic said.
He recalled the sets of measures that his cabinet has so far adopted to ease the situation for 107,000 businesses with over 630,000 employees.
The government will adopt a new set of measures aimed at alleviating the situation in the enterprise sector, he said, explaining that the schemes will help them to overcome this challenging period
The job-retention grant of 4,000 per worker per month will be in place, he added.
Also, additional funds for the so-called COVID loans will be made available.
Personal responsibility, compliance with epidemic prevention measures amount to patriotism
Plenkovic said that the legislation on the protection of the population against infectious diseases would be amended whereby breaking anti-COVID rules would be penalised.
He admitted that the authorities reluctantly resorted to the introduction of penalties and fines, however, “this tool is now necessary to protect a great majority of responsible citizens against irresponsible individuals.”
He appealed for adherence to the epidemiological measures which can be efficient only if all of the citizens comply with them.
In the current times, the responsible behaviour of each individual and compliance with all the measures including wearing masks, keeping a physical distance, hand washing, and airing of indoor premises, amounts to acts of patriotism, Plenkovic underscored.