Welcome to our bridge festival!

I do not want to give you false hope, but I am too excited not to share what I just received.

So, Croatian headquarters of civil protection & sport epidemiologist see no reason not to hold the festival.
It is only the first step since Istrian and Pula headquarters are in charge and they can stop the event. They are more strict than the country headquarters.

But, at least the first step is done and it is positive, in this troubled times it brights my ❤

Last message:
Dear Pula Players,
Here I am again, not bringing the greatest news. But, I want you to be updated and I promised I will share all information here as soon as I have it.
So, just yesterday, Istrian civil protection headquarters cancelled Pula film festival which was about to begin today. Other big public manifestations that were supposed to happen were also either delayed or cancelled, including Jazz festival in Grožnjan and Motovun Film Festival. These are big, well-known events with long tradition, and huge participation.
Why? While to me the virus situation in Istria county (200.000 inhabitants) does not look dramatic – altogether from March 105 cases and 2 deaths – there were 17 new cases in the last 2 days so Istrian civil protection headquarters is extra cautious, and wants to make sure that the virus does not spread in the community. How long will they force these measures — well, no one can tell.
I am still NOT willing to cancel Pula bridge festival, as we all know how everything changes so rapidly. However, if Pula bridge festival was to happen now – it would not be possible.
Please do not blame me for keeping this uncertainty, please understand that I am just not ready to quit. It is far from easy to operate this way in complete ambiguity. All your bookings are safe, and will be cancelled automatically without any charge if the festival is cancelled (unless you told me you are coming anyway 😃 – which some of you already did). Prices at arenahotels.com dropped somewhat, so please check if you got the best price, and if you did not just let me know (tihana@pilar.hr) and I will tell you how to sort it out.
Hoping that I will be able to bring much happier news with my next post.

Last month message:

Dear Pula players ❤
I got so many queries lately. I know that you know that I can not have the final decision yet, but it seems you want to hear some positive words from me. Therefore, I feel I have to talk to you although I do not have much to say 🙂 Things did not change much since my previous post. Yes, situation is better across Europe: the number of cases per day in many countries dropped from thousands to hundreds or less — but we are certainly not virus free. In Croatia, at the moment all business is open, and sport competitions are held. Masks are obligatory in public transport, and recommended distance is 2 meters. There is isolation period of 14 days for those coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Republic of Serbia and North Macedonia.
There are still two months…
My plan is to write a request letter to Croatian Institute of Public Health and sport epidemiologists describing in detail bridge tournament and its potential risks, as well as what we are able to do to prevent those risks. I intend to send this letter in about 2 weeks. I guess I may have their recommendation in late July. If I get positive response, I will send request to Institute for Public Health of Istria County to get their permission. Only after all this is done, I can be (kind of) sure that we will be able to make it.
Restrictions that may apply:
– We may be asked to limit number of players in every tournament. If so, those who register earlier will have advantage. I will have to adjust prizes according to the number of participants;
– We may need passport numbers and phone numbers of all players in advance, I really do not what to be bothered with GDPR at the moment – I am not going to steal/sell your data – and if I manage to do so – we will split the profit
– Entries will be done only online, in advance (e.g. 24 hours before the tournament);
– Face masks might be obligatory at the venue – if so – you will have to bring them;
– Players will be asked to measure their body temperature daily and to report if it is 37.2 or higher – so you have to have thermometer;
– Players may be asked to measure their body temperature during the play. Players who show signs of respiratory problems or influenza will be asked to leave the playing area;
– We will not be able to have bigger social gatherings 🙁
– I don’t know how to control this, but sterilizing hands is really important. I will provide lot, lot, lot of sterilizators – please use them constantly;
– Entries, results, positions — everything will be posted only online to avoid crowds in front of screens;
– Kibitzers will not be allowed at all;
– Any other measures recommended by Croatian Institute of Public Health – as soon as I know it I will publish here and at Pula web page.
These measures sound horrible to me too. And it will be fucking difficult to carry them out. I will need all your help in strictly following the rules, even if they seem stupid. And still, I can not promise you safety, and you have to be aware of that. It is your call. On the bright side, Pula was always kind of dangerous tournament 😮.
At the moment I have about 100 bookings for the festival. Please make your bookings by sending me e-mail (tihana@pilar.hr), since I need to control number of participants. Hotels have limitations of 30% of capacity or so. I do offer better prices than any agency, and you do not need credit card or anything else to book. Also, your cancelation is 100% free of charge if you book this way. Please send me at least mail with intention – so I can somehow approximate number of interested people in a month, and have full information before the festival.
With all my heart I hope that we will be able to carry out this weird 59th Pula bridge festival. If so, it will be one of the first in 2020, and we will all remember it for a lifetime.

Last month message:

You asked many times during the last month if we are going to cancel Pula festival. I am touched that Pula, for so many of you, seems like light on the horizon, something that you can look forward to after this tremendous shit is over.

I can promise you, that I will not withdraw until I am certain there is no other option. I know that WBF and EBL cancelled their mayor events that were supposed to be held at similar dates as Pula. However, neither they, nor I, can predict the future, it is still over four months until then and I am not willing to take premature decisions just to stay on a safe side. You know, at the moment, decision could only be to cancel, as no one can be 100% sure that it will be possible to hold an event.

Here is my standpoint: if the borders will be open and if sports events and festivals of this kind will be permitted, YES we will go on. Pula festival had encountered many difficult challenges, including smallpox outbreak in ex-Yugoslavia in the ‘70s and homeland war in the ‘90s – we carried on every single year. Croatia at the moment is one of the safest countries in EU, and we hope that safety measures along with summer climate will slow down the virus in other countries too. There are practically no new cases in China and South Korea now and I hope other countries will follow the same path. We hope that life will start to return to normal soon and that by September it will be safe to organize events like Pula. I will stay in touch with you, inform you as soon as I have any new information, and my team is doing everything as the festival is going to be held.

For now, thank you so much for staying home, keeping social distance and doing your best to enable bridge tournaments in the future.

Tihana Brkljačić
tihana@pilar.hr