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Slovenia's government warns against travel to Croatia

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia is urging its citizens to return from Croatia by the end of the week or face an obligatory two-week quarantine after the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise there, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

“The situation is so bad that we have no choice but to urge citizens to return from the dangerous country as soon as possible,” Jelko Kacin said.

Slovenian holidaymakers already in Croatia will be able to return freely until the end of this week, while those travelling to the neighbouring country from Aug. 21 onwards will have to go into quarantine when they come back, Kacin said.

Croatia escaped the worst of the first wave of the pandemic owing to swift lockdowns and a lack of tourist arrivals at the tail-end of winter, and during the reopening of its economy promoted itself as a safe destination for tourists.

But on Wednesday it registered 219 fresh coronavirus infections, bringing the total number COVID-19 cases to 7,074.

Slovenia has recorded 2,493 COVID-19 cases, dozens of which have been traced back to people returning from trips to party hot spots in Croatia in the past couple of weeks.

According to Croatia’s tourist board more than 140,000 Slovenes visited the Adriatic country this month.

Austria also warned against travel to Croatia last week and the United Kingdom said it may also remove it from its quarantine-free list this week. Italy has introduced mandatory coronavirus testing for everyone who enters Italy from Croatia.

Bars and nightclubs in Croatia were ordered over the weekend to close after midnight for 10 days, to prevent the virus spreading.

The country this year expected to welcome only around a third of the tourists who visited in previous summer seasons, but numbers in July and August in many places reached between 60% and 70% of 2019 figures.

Slovenia in July introduced two-week quarantine for travellers arriving from nearly 60 countries with an unstable epidemiological situation and for travellers with a temporary or permanent residence in these countries entering Slovenia.

Reporting by Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo; Editing by Toby Chopra and David Holmes