Croatia reopened its borders without restrictions to citizens from 10 European Union countries, including Estonia, on Thursday as the Adriatic nation looks to salvage a vital tourism sector hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The "temporary ban on border crossing" has been lifted "for tourism", Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told a Cabinet session.
The measure applies to 10 countries who have had similarly successful results in containing the virus, he said, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
From Thursday, citizens of the 10 countries listed will not need to provide any reason for entry and can submit their personal data on a special website before travelling to reduce wait times at the border.
However, epidemiological checks remain as does the obligation to adhere to general and special recommendations by the Croatian Institute for Public Health.
Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic on Thursday called on foreign citizens to visit a new web site - entercroatia.mup.hr, which is up and running as of today and to complete the questionnaire regarding their entry into Croatia in order to help shorten waiting times at border crossings.
"I recommend that foreign citizens who intend to stay in Croatia submit information via the web site in advance," Bozinovic said during a cabinet meeting.
"Upon entering Croatia, citizens of those member states will be registered and information will be taken regarding their destination, mobile phone numbers and e-mail addresses in case it is necessary to contact them for any epidemiological reason," he said.
Passengers who do not submit their information in advance will do so upon entering the country at border crossings. Bozinovic said that this will require more time and that they will probably be diverted to a separate lane.
"Citizens who announce their arrival via the web site will receive an e-mail confirming receipt of their announcement and containing all the necessary information regarding instructions and recommendations from the Institute for Public Health," said Bozinovic.
The website is available in English and Croatian.
Home to 4.2 million people, Croatia has largely kept its coronavirus outbreak in check, limiting deaths to around 100 and known infections to slightly over 2,000.
When the country started relaxing lockdown measures earlier this month, it opened borders to EU citizens travelling for business purposes, as well as those who own real estate, a boat or have a confirmed accommodation booking in the country.
Accounting for around a fifth of Croatia's economy, the tourism sector is expected to contract by 70 percent this year due to the pandemic.
The list will be expanded as the health situation improves in other countries, Plenkovic added.
Editor: Helen Wright