Anyone who has known the Croats long enough knows that government orders, even in the form of laws and regulations, are only reluctantly followed, if at all. Zagreb is far away and usually you know someone who owes you a favor or turns a blind eye. However, this particular charm that characterizes the southern countries seems to have been suspended in times of the coronavirus.
From Izola to Pula
The skipper, who tried to bring a catamaran from Izola to Istria, arrived in Slovenia without any problems. Also the takeover of the ship and the departure from the marina in Izola turned out to be without problems. On the way to Pula, where he had to clear in, he reported via WhatsApp: “Three police boats passed, no controls”.
Croatian border police friendly, but determined
The hope for a smooth course of the trip with subsequent stay in Croatia should be dispelled already at the check-in. Very kindly, but also determinedly, the border guards let him know that even a recently conducted negative corona test, a Croatian tax number OIB, the fact that he was the manager of a d.o.o. run in Croatia and had urgent work to do on site, and that he could show a long-term lease of an apartment, did not entitle him to stay in the country. Only a residence permit in the form of a Croatian ID card protected him from premature departure, but not from the usual 14-day quarantine. A customs officer explained in a friendly manner why the procedure was being so strictly applied: “We must act now so that the borders can be reopened as soon as possible”.
The skipper had to go into short quarantine immediately, an employee of his company from the ACI Marina Pomer took the catamaran and transferred it to the home marina.
Control at every toll station
The next day, a special taxi approved for transport took him to the Slovenian border. The taxi driver wore a face mask and gloves, the guest had to sit in the back. And: at every toll station the police checked the pass.
At the Croatian border, the first thing to do was to “get out”, the way through no man’s land was on foot. On the Slovenian side it was much more relaxed: Show your passport and get into the waiting taxi that the skipper had ordered by phone. Here they did not take the virus too seriously. “The taxi driver drove without mouthguard and gloves, and in the squares in the city people sat in the cafés in the sun as if COVID 19, Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 did not even exist. You drive twenty or thirty kilometers and you’re in a totally different world.”
Austria without stopover
We continued with our own vehicle to the Austrian border. Here you were only asked whether you had enough petrol in your tank to cross Austria without stopping and had to sign a declaration obliging the driver to drive through the Alpine Republic without stopping if possible. But there were no objections against visiting a “quiet place” at a motorway service station.
Germany: “Are you healthy?”
Crossing the border at the Walserberg border crossing point then almost turned into a farce: although strong police forces and border guards were assembled there, a glance at the identity card and the question: “Are they healthy?” was enough to cross the border without any problems. No indication of possible quarantine, no question of origin – it could have been the Bergamo region or Milan. His conclusion: “The check at the German-Austrian border could have been safely avoided”.
Conclusion: Measures in Croatia most stringent
Back in Germany and with the necessary distance to his short trip to Croatia, only one thing remains stuck in the assessment of the overall situation in Europe: “If one country is really serious about the restrictions, then of all the countries visited on the occasion of the short trip it is probably really only Croatia. Here people don’t just talk about restrictions, here they live them every day. Knowing full well that the economy of the whole country benefits significantly from tourism and a fast, risk-free opening of the border.
Such descriptions give reason to hope that Croatia could get the situation around COVID 19, Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 under control really quickly and that tourists might be able to spend the summer on their beloved Adriatic Sea after all. But whether such a trip really makes sense is another matter. In this case there were really urgent reasons to travel to Croatia and start working there after the quarantine.