Disinfection of city centre in Croatia's capital Zagreb will begin over the weekend, and public transport lines would be significantly reduced, Mayor Milan Bandic announced on Thursday. City authorities also moved to waive rents for shops and businesses based in city-owned properties, and cut utility fees.
“We’ll start disinfecting the city centre on Saturday, and we recommend that everyone stay outside as little as possible,” Bandic said in a press conference.
Zagreb's streets have emptied earlier this week, after the Croatian government had imposed sweeping restrictions on public life on Thursday, banning any public gathering of more than five people and closing all non-essential stores.
Bandic said that Zagreb's lakes of Jarun and Bundek, which normally attract large numbers of joggers and picnickers, will remain open to the public, but added that the five-person restriction should be obeyed.
As of Friday morning, 110 cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Croatia, including one death, acccording to data collected by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Local authorities say nearly half of cases have been reported in Zagreb since the outbreak started. The country's largest city by far, Zagreb is home to about one fifth of Croatia's 4 million population.
The average age of infected patients nationwide is little over 42, which is almost the same as the nation's average age overall. Croatia has one of the oldest populations in Europe, with about a quarter of the nation aged 60 and over.
A large mountain lodge on Mt. Medvednica overlooking the city normally popular with hikers, Tomislavac, has been converted into a quarantine fo patients. On Thursday, the army started setting up infirmary tents in front of KB Dubrava, a major hospital in the eastern part of the city, to assist with the expected spike in coronavirus cases.
The city public transport company ZET will also cut down its regular tram and bus lines, starting on Monday. Hand sanitizers would be installed at all bus and tram terminals, and and all public transportation vehicles serving the city will be disinfected three times a day.
Mayor Bandic also asked everyone using public transport to pay for rides via electronic pre-paid cards as much as possible, rather than use cash to buy tickets from drivers.
The city assembly also passed a set of ordnances designed to help local businesses avoid bankruptcy amid crippling restrictions during the outbreak.
The measures - which will be in force from April to June - include waiving of municipal rents for businesses housed in city-owned properties. Municipal utility fees would also be waived during that period for all stores forced to close their doors to customers, and for all other businesses the fees would be slashed 30 percent.