Since mid-March, public spaces and gatherings in all of Croatia have been restricted by signs, warnings, and possible fines. Croatia locked down fast and strong, and presumably as a result, the effects of the virus have not been as prevalent here as they have for many of our European neighbors.
On April 27, the Croatian government started a 3-week plan to ease restrictions. Some important changes went into effect today, including reopening some schools, allowing intercity transportation, some ambiguous language on crossing borders, and the reopening of coffee bars, cafés, and restaurants (with required distancing and hygiene measures). In anticipation, there has been a welcome rush of activity during the past couple weeks as café and restaurant owners power-wash their terraces, paint trim, wash windows, and set out tables and chairs.
According to Glas Hrvatske (“Voice of Croatia”), the Croatian coffee company Franck conducted a survey at the beginning of May and found that “the things Croatians miss the most during the lockdown…are spending time with friends and family (78%), followed by trips and travel (48%) and drinking coffee in cafes (44%).” For anyone who has spent some time here, this comes as no surprise. Café culture is an essential part of Croatian life.
And so today is a big day in Croatia. More and more neighbors, friends, and families have been out walking and enjoying healthy time in the fresh air. Music is in the air once again. Energy is returning to the streets. We’re not out of the woods yet, but at least we can feel hopeful that we will return to the relaxed, outdoor Mediterranean lifestyle we love.