Croatia starts gradual lockdown relax next Monday

Croatia will start a staged easing next week of coronavirus lockdown measures it introduced more than a month ago, beginning by opening more shops and running public transport in cities, PM Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday.

The country has been in lockdown since mid-March with only food stores, pharmacies and petrol stations open. It has so far registered 1,981 cases of COVID-19, with 50 deaths.

"(The) epidemiological situation is under control. We can now turn to gradually, I repeat gradually, reactivating the economic activities. But we must remain very cautious not to waste what we have so far achieved," Plenkovic told a cabinet session. From 27 April all shops will be open apart from those located in big shopping centres, he said. Businesses that can provide services without requiring close contact with customers, such as tailors or tourist agencies, will also reopen.

"We will reopen libraries, bookshops and museums. The public transport in the cities will start operating again," Plenkovic added.

From 4 May services involving close physical contact, like beauty and hairdressing shops, will also reopen, but with specific protection measures.

From 11May gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed at a safe physical distance and big shopping centres will reopen. On that date elementary schools will open their doors for the youngest pupils.

Also from that date, bars and the restaurants will be allowed to operate, but with customers permitted only in their outside spaces, and respecting adequate protection measures.

"Public events and large public gatherings will remain banned. We must remain on alert. This virus requires it. This is a move to reactivate economic activities, but at the same time we must carry on protecting each other," Plenkovic said.

He added the lockdown measures could be reactivated if the epidemiological situation deteriorated.

The coronavirus crisis will affect strongly the Croatia’s economy this year, especially given its huge reliance on the tourist industry. Last week the World Bank projected an economic downturn of 6.2%, while the IMF saw it even higher, at 9.0%.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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