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Slovenia says still a lot of work after Croatian border opens

ZAGREB, May 13 (Hina) – Slovenia has reacted with some reservation to expectations by its citizens regarding the opening of Croatia’s border to EU citizens for business or urgent personal reasons, warning that a lot of things have to be resolved before Slovenian tourists and owners of holiday houses can travel to Croatia.

“Croatia has surprised us and jumped the gun by opening its borders to potential tourists,” government spokesman Jelko Kacin told a press conference in Ljubljana, reiterating that talks between the countries’ public health institutes regarding a possible border-crossing regime were still underway. After the talks are completed, it will be necessary to harmonise border police procedures which will then have to be approved by the two governments, he said.

As soon as the two public health institutes come to some sort of agreement and the mechanisms of how to approach that issue, we will inform the public, Kacin said.

Kacin said that opening the borders while the COVID-19 pandemic was still ongoing was demanding and the government would have the last say because it was a sovereign decision by each EU member state.

“Opening the borders is a major challenge because not one country wants guests who are positive for COVID-19,” said Kacin and added that despite the epidemic in Italy subsiding, the situation in that country was still quite dramatic.

Croatia and Slovenia, Kacin went on to say, have a similar epidemiological situation and a small number of people infected per capita but the risk that COVID-19 erupts in Croatia during the summer could increase with Italian guests coming to Croatia.

Another risk to efforts to revive tourism, according to Kacin, is the fact that some earlier expectations that the coronavirus would “weaken” or disappear with higher summer temperatures “are not realistic,” hence there are fewer and fewer advocates of that theory.

Kacin said that there were still a lot of issues to consider, for example, what to do with Slovenian citizens who after travelling to Croatia become infected with COVID-19 or how to transfer them back to Slovenia. Slovenia needs to have at least one COVID hospital prepared to accept these patients, concluded Kacin.

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