The streets of our hometown are empty. But not empty in a nice, wintry kind of way, as if the city itself is resting from the tourist swarms and enjoying its time off. No, this time, the streets are empty for a more sinister reason; the outbreak of the coronavirus here in Croatia. At the time of writing, the number of reported cases in Croatia's southernmost county is 22. The strict measures undertaken by the government officials to control and contain the spreading of the virus are showing results as the people of Dubrovnik stay at their homes as much as possible.
Truth be told, our Mediterranean mentality even just a week ago, when the weather was favorable and sun was shining, made more than a few of Dubrovnik people go for walks and soak up the much needed vitamin D. Over the last few days, however, it seems as though the citizens are really starting to abide by the newly imposed rules aimed towards containing the coronavirus and one can hardly see a living soul on Stradun, the famous main street in Dubrovnik's Old town.
How does it all work? Well, if you HAVE to go outside, you can do so only if you need to buy groceries or visit the pharmacy. The grocery stores work until 5 pm, and later, during the night, the city looks almost medieval with the public lighting dimmed to save on electricity, a move the local city administration and the mayor announced just today in an effort to cut back on unnecessary expenses. People waiting outside the stores and pharmacies form lines, with at least two meters of space between each other.
Many people can be seen wearing medical masks, healthy or sick, believing this would keep them and others safe. The stores and the pharmacies require everyone to disinfect their hands. The civil protection has announced it would enforce penalizing individuals who do not act according to the measures and the police itself said that whoever voluntarily abandons the self-isolation would be punished.
Dubrovnik airport has ceased all civil flight operations. The cruise ships that were scheduled to start late March were all cancelled. It seems now as if this tourist season is lost because nobody can say with certainty how long these measures will last. Small businesses, ours included, are going through difficult times. The only hope we have is that the travel industry will bounce back one day. The human need to travel and discover places is strong and rest assured, one day, all this will be over and the streets of Dubrovnik will be crowded.
Coronavirus in Croatia will not last forever and when things eventually calm down, we look forward to seeing you again and welcoming you on one of our tours! In the meantime, we'll work on bettering ourselves as professional guides, we'll read more and find more intriguing stories to share with you when we meet again. Until then, stay safe, dear friends!
Your travel buddies in Dubrovnik,
Dubrovnik Local Guides