Krunoslav Capak, the director of the country’s Institute of Public Health, said there would be “no bans, just precautions” on its beaches. He said: “I will certainly go to the beach. I can’t wait. Lifeguards, local authorities and hoteliers will have to make sure that sun beds and towels are not too close together because the virus will still be present.”
Tourism chiefs across Europe’s favourite holiday hotspots are desperately trying to find ways of safely re-opening their resorts to foreign travellers as lockdown restrictions are slowly eased.
Croatia has escaped the worst ravages of the pandemic with 2,125 confirmed cases to date and a death toll of 86.
But Mr Capak urged people to remain aware the virus was still present and will be for some time.
He said loosened restrictions designed to free up economic activity and daily life would slowly reintroduce some sort of normalcy.
Mr Capak said sun seekers would definitely be able to head to the seaside this summer but he warned it would not be like it was in the past.
He said: “There will be no crowds on the beaches. There will be local council officers, beach owners, or concessionaires who will have to worry about making sure there is no physical contact – there will no longer be towels side by side.”
When asked if people could travel to the popular islands of Croatia’s Dalmation coast Mr Capak said restrictions were being slowly lifted, but that some things could not be lifted all at once.
He said: “If residents on the islands want their guests and tourists to come, everything can be organised.”
Mr Capak said things would not return to the way they were before COVID-19 and urged everyone to stick to basic epidemiological measures of hygiene, disinfection, and physical distancing.
He said: “Look at the surrounding countries, there is little talk about it. Italy still has hundreds of deaths a day.
“We have made a great success, we must be careful not to have another wave happen.
“That second wave threatens us. We will have to let traffic in, people will come, we will go to Europe, without that there is no normal life.
“Quarantine is good for stopping the spread, but it is not sustainable.
“People cannot function, there is social life or economy. If the virus retains these characteristics it has now, it is quite certain that it will return in the fall. “However, who can say that until then, we will not have an effective cure, a vaccine, that we will not learn more about the virus so we can stop it.
“I hope it will be possible to not have to quarantine again.”
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The provision for the closure of the borders in Croatia extends until May 18 and the government has called for the adoption of a single European protocol to allow the resumption of travel between countries.
Revenue is expected to drop 50 percent for hotels and restaurants, 70 percent for tour operators and travel agencies and 90 percent for cruise firms and airlines.
Europe accounts for half of the world’s tourist arrivals and the situation is particularly hard for countries such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece.
The European Union said 27 million people worked either directly or indirectly in the tourism industry within the bloc.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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