COVID certificates proving that someone has been vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 or has tested negative, become mandatory as of Tuesday for entry into public and state institutions, by which authorities want to further protect citizens' health, encourage them to get vaccinated and ensure access to the health system.
According to the decision by the National Civil Protection Headquarters, an EU digital certificate will have to be presented by all public and state employees, as well as those in local authorities, and for those who have not been vaccinated or recovered from COVID, a security measure of mandatory coronavirus testing has been introduced.
You cannot enter the workspace without a certificate or test
Officials, civil servants and employees of institutions and companies whose founders are the state, counties, cities and municipalities, are obliged to show certificates to a person authorized by the employer, and if they refuse to be tested or show a certificate they will not be able to enter the workspace.
COVID certificates have also been introduced in schools, but only for employees. Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs expects certain problems in schools until the introduction of COVID certificates is established, but not great difficulties, because schools have received instructions from the Civil Protection Headquarters and additional instructions from the Ministry.
Certificates are, with some exceptions, mandatory for all parties who come to an official premise, but also other persons who come there for any reason.
Those who have not recovered from COVID or been vaccinated will be tested twice a week
Employees who have not recovered from COVID or have not been vaccinated will need to be tested twice a week, and more than 6,500 test sites have been opened, including in primary care practices and pharmacies. The test site will also be able to be determined by an employer, but then the certificate will only be valid for coming to work.
The decision to introduce mandatory COVID certificates for entry into public and state institutions was made at the height of the fourth wave of the pandemic and has no limited deadline, and a recommendation was issued to private employers to implement similar measures.
COVID certificates have been extended to the public and state sectors after the obligation was introduced in health and social care institutions in early October.
The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, says that in the system that includes the expansion of COVID certificates, there are 270,000 employees, not counting companies, among whom 100,000 may need to be tested.
"We have done everything to create the infrastructure, to have a sufficient number of places where they can be tested. We have allowed employers to organize it on their premises, either on their own or to sign a contract with someone who can do it," he said.
The introduction of mandatory certificates was scheduled for Monday, but was postponed for one day so that all those interested could be tested and have COVID certificates on Tuesday.
Criticism by the opposition, bishops, President Milanović...
The new measure in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic was criticized by the opposition, which assessed it as a division into first- and second-class citizens. The parliamentary opposition demands that the epidemiological measures in Parliament be decided by Parliament itself, and not by the Civil Protection Headquarters, whose decision cannot limit a parliamentary mandate.
Mandatory certificates are not viewed favorably by the Permanent Council of the Croatian Bishops' Conference, which assessed that an "atmosphere of certain pressures" on the unvaccinated had been created in society and said that vaccination must be voluntary, without coercion and conditions.
The sharpest criticism came from President Zoran Milanović, who called the introduction of mandatory COVID certificates "madness without any arguments" and said that citizens should be vaccinated, but also have the right to protection against arbitrariness.
Due to COVID certificates, some dissatisfied citizens have been protesting at St. Mark's Square and in several Croatian cities for days, claiming that they are being discriminated against and that their freedoms are being restricted.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković replied that protests against vaccination were allowed, but expressed disbelief that nowadays someone chooses to trust unverified and tendentiously false sources about vaccination in relation to what is true.
Commenting on the bishop's message about vaccination, Plenković referred to a statement by Pope Francis that was "clear" and called on people to be vaccinated.
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