The Slovenien Government announces lockdown; prime minister Janez Janša addressing the citizens via a videoconference

Address to people of Slovenia by Prime Minister Janez Janša. Photo: Screen capture Address to people of Slovenia by Prime Minister Janez Janša. Photo: Screen capture

The government adopted a decree on Thursday banning gatherings and movement of people in public areas, albeit with a number of exceptions. The measure enters into force at midnight.

Despite the stepped up restrictions, people will be allowed to leave home to go to work, the pharmacy and to buy groceries at their closest shop, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.

In line with the government decree, people will also be allowed to go outdoors and to parks, but only alone or with people living in the same household. They will also be able to run errants related to their household or agricultural activities.

Local communities will be able to determine exemptions to the ban in more detail with a public municipal decree. Fines for violations will be about EUR 400, according to Hojs.

Addressing the citizens via a videoconference tonight, Prime Minister Janez Janša said people must become aware that even the strictest measures would have no effect unless "we realise that every one of us is a part of both the problem and solution".

The period of this crisis cannot be assessed yet, he said, noting that "we are definitely not talking about days but rather of at least weeks and months".

He said that Slovenia had never been in a more difficult situation and that the danger was worse than in a typical war except in those that involve the use of biological weapons.

He also announced an expansion of the military reserve force, calling all those with military skills to join in.

Janša added that certain measures such as the ban of passenger flights and restrictions for some other activities would be toned down in the coming weeks when additional protective equipment arrived and safety procedures were laid down.

He asserted additional protective gear would arrive in Europe and Slovenia shortly, and that food reserves were sufficient and would be further supplemented.

Hojs also commented today on calls by the trade union of shop assistants to change a government decree saying that grocery stores must be open from 8am to at least 8pm. The union demands the closing time at 6pm.

It demands the change within 24 hours, and is threatening with a strike.

Hojs said now was not the time to threaten with strike, adding that Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek would check the decree again to determine if the working time should be cut any further.

According to the minister, the government would like to set a time frame for individual groups of population to go to shops so as to prevent the most vulnerable groups from being exposed to a potential infection.

Commenting on the proposal to give the army police powers, he said this would not mean that the army would have unlimited powers within the country but that the army could be activated to exercise additional control of the EU's external borders, as police would be required inland.

Until 2pm today, 319 cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in Slovenia, while 9,860 tests were conducted.

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