zagreb_pilot_event
Photo Credit: Kruno Blažinović

Projects to open the way for the “old normal”

Since the start of the pandemic, the meetings and event industry has recorded a drop in revenues of almost 90%. When it comes to the event industry, last year alone saw the cancellation of over 100 festivals. These usually attract about one million visitors from all over the world every year. According to a survey by Unison, the event industry accounts for 6.3% of Croatia’s GDP and employs about 17,000 people. According to some estimates, once business activities resume, only 50-60% of the pre-pandemic companies and employees from the event industry will have remained on the market. One of the hardest hit by the pandemic, the hospitality and catering industry, recorded a drop of 55.5% during the first four months of 2021, compared to the same period in 2019.


Geared toward reviving these industries, the Independent Association of Caterers, with the support of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ), launched pilot projects aimed at determining whether and to what extent the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, causing COVID-19, spreads at events.

zagreb_pilot_event
Photo Credit: Kruno Blažinović

On 13 May, a pilot project was held in Zagreb aimed at simulating a business event organized under predetermined conditions. About 90 guests gathered at the Rooftop Lateral restaurant in Zagreb to take part in a study of sorts aimed at determining whether the event was safe. The event lasted for 4 hours and included the consumption of food and beverages. Participants had to have received a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the event and had to agree to a mandatory PCR test after the event.

In addition, a simulation of a wedding reception with a live performance by a band was held on May 15 at the Riverside Zagreb Golf Club, with more than 100 participants. This project involved three groups of participants: vaccinated persons, those who have a certificate that they contracted COVID-19 within the past 6 months and those that tested negative at the Croatian Institute of Public Health one day prior to the event. As with the simulated business banquet, participants were tested a week after the event.

zagreb_pilot_event
Photo Credit: Kruno Blažinović

Success of pilot projects – a basis for easing epidemiological restrictions

The results of both projects were in line with the expectations of experts from the relevant fields. All guests of both events tested negative for SARS-COV-2 one week later. President of the Independent Association of Caterers, Žakline Troskot, pointed out that preparations for the project had been underway since March of this year, and that organizers were very proud that their idea had come to fruition. She believes the favourable results had a role in the adoption of new measures by the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia and contributed to the normalization of the hospitality and catering industry, as well as the meetings, event and all other related industries, in compliance with the new conditions.


Find out more at https://www.meetinzagreb.hr/