Croatia shuts cafes, halts weddings as COVID cases surge

SARAJEVO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Croatia will close cafes and restaurants and ban weddings until Christmas as the number of coronavirus cases hit a record high on Thursday for the second day in a row, the government said.

The country of four million reported 4,009 new cases and 51 deaths on Thursday, with 21,725 active cases.

A new set of measures, including restricting outdoor and public gatherings to 25 people and private parties to 10, will come into effect on Saturday and last at least until Dec. 21, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said.

Usable space on public transport will be restricted to 40%, bakeries will have to close by 10 p.m., cafes and restaurants will be closed for guests while restaurants will be allowed to prepare and deliver food.

“Our goal is fourfold - to implement the measures, to expand testing, to maintain our health system and prepare for vaccination,” Plenkovic told a news conference. He said the government did not consider imposing a lockdown.

Croatia’s eastern neighbour, Serbia, reported a record 51 deaths and 7,606 new infections in the past 24 hours. A state of emergency was introduced in the second-largest city of Novi Sad.

Serbia, which has a population of 7.2 million, has reported 148,214 coronavirus infections so far and 7,579 deaths.

Last week, North Macedonia introduced a state of emergency, bringing in the army and private hospitals to help counter the spike in infections. (Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Nick Macfie)