Friday’s press conference on the current situation regarding the coronavirus was attended by Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj, Minister of Education, Science and Sport Simona Kustec, Acting Director-General of the Public Health Directorate at the Ministry of Health Vesna-Kerstin Petrič, and Government spokesman Jelko Kacin.
6745 tests were conducted on Thursday, with 1656 positive cases, or 24.55 percent. 394 patients required hospitalisation, of whom 67 are in intensive care, and five persons passed away. The 14-day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants (incidence) grew by 12.8 percent and is currently at 546.
Minister Janez Cigler Kralj visited the Centre for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Elderly in Škofja Loka yesterday. When its first case of infection was detected, the centre immediately established a red zone within its facilities. When the existing capacities could no longer handle the growing number of cases, the centre established a larger red zone outside the institution. The appropriateness of the use of outdoor areas was approved by an expert coordinating group for management of Covid-19, which is headed by Dr Aleš Rozman in the Gorenjska region.
Measures in the fifth anti-coronavirus package regarding the labour market
The Act Determining Emergency Measures to Mitigate and Remedy the Consequences of the COVID-19 Epidemic, i.e. the so-called fifth anti-coronavirus package (PKP5), was published in the Official Gazette today, and enters into force tomorrow.
Minister Janez Cigler Kralj presented some of the measures set out in the law which fall under his area of authority.
The budget for supplies for homes for the elderly will be maintained, since the state budget covers the following costs:
- one month’s mandatory supply of strategic inventory of personal protective equipment
- co-financing of personal protective equipment and disinfectant supplies for working in grey and red zones
- reimbursement of loss of revenues due to unoccupied capacities
The PKP provides an extension of the subsidy for waiting for work at home until the end of the year for all sectors that show a decline in revenue of at least 20% relative to 2019.
Wage compensation due to enforced quarantine or force majeure will be available from 1 September 2020 onward, at a level of 80 percent of one’s salary in the event of absence due to force majeure that is a consequence of childcare due to enforced quarantine of a child up to and including the 5th year of primary school. Compensation will also be provided in the event of caring for children with special needs who require continuous care.
Employers may file an application with the Employment Service (ZRSZ) to request state compensation for the quarantine period. The minister notes that even if employers do not receive quarantine certificates on time, they should file incomplete applications with the ZRSZ so that delays do not occur, and compete the applications when they receive the proper certificates and decisions. Otherwise, applications filed after the 8-day deadline will be considered late.
The new law provides protection for self-employed persons, partners in firms and farmers in the form of a monthly basic income and partial reimbursement for quarantine periods.
Both measures will be in force from 1 October to 31 December 2020, and the Government will be able to extend them for a period of no more than six months.
The amount of the monthly basic income will be EUR 1,100 for October, November and December 2020, except for beneficiaries in cultural fields, who will receive EUR 700. Self-employed people will also receive EUR 250 in compensation for lost revenues in the event of enforced quarantine.
The condition for receiving a monthly basic income is a drop in revenues in 2020 of more than 20% relative to 2019 due to the consequences of the epidemic.
Providers of occasional transport and urban transport will be eligible for compensation of costs incurred due to their not being able to carry out transport from 16 March to 11 May.
Decree on restriction of retail sales of goods and services
The decree was presented by Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, who stated that the temporary prohibition of provision and sales of goods and services would apply to: overnight accommodations providers, casinos, food service establishments, hair and beauty salons, wellness centres and pools, cinemas, cultural institutions, fitness gyms and car washes.
The exceptions to this are:
- retail shops that primarily sell food, including agricultural products on farms
- pharmacies and shops selling medical and orthopaedic devices
- chemists/drug stores
- pet food shops
- gardening and agricultural supply shops
- tree and plant nurseries
- agricultural supply shops
- service stations
- vehicle and bicycle repair shops (e.g. tyre service, car painting shops, body shops, bicycle repair shops)
- retail shops that primarily sell construction materials
- banks and insurance companies
- post offices
- delivery services
- newspaper and magazine stands and kiosks
- in-person pickup of goods and food is also permitted at pick-up locations at which minimal contact is ensured with customers between 6.00 am and 9.00 pm
- and other services ensuring public safety and health
Online sales are also permitted.
All hygiene recommendations from the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) must be followed when providing the aforementioned services.
Services of providers of overnight lodging may be extended to:
- people who require accommodations due to the performance of business activities
- people employed by public utilities services in Slovenia
- foreign citizens who travel to Slovenia on business, or are members of diplomatic missions or state delegations
Overnight accommodations may also be provided to people who are sent for treatment by healthcare operators, or are sent to an overnight facility to provide healthcare services.
They may also be provided to athletes, sports-related professionals and people who carry out auxiliary work in accordance with the Sports Act.
Overnight accommodations can also be offered in order to implement measures for mitigation of coronavirus infections, i.e. in the event of confinement, isolation or quarantine.
Guests who are already staying in accommodations upon the coming into force of this decree may continue to stay in those accommodations until the service period expires.
All forms of provision and sales of goods and services listed as exceptions in other Government decrees shall also be permitted.
Regardless of the measures stated in other Government decrees, the following shall be permitted with no time limit:
- food and drink delivery
- serving of food and drinks by organisations that provide food service activities for their employees or clients (e.g. company canteens)
The number of persons in closed public spaces in which sales of goods and services are conducted is limited to 20 m2 per individual customer, or 1 customer at a time when the space is less than 20 m2.
The minister confirmed that the Government is negotiating with spas and hotels about accepting Covid-19 patients, and that agreements on around 500 beds are in the final phase.
Nursery schools closing
Minister Simona Kustec stated that in view of the fact that the number of cases is still growing and that we recorded 100-percent growth in infections among nursery school employees in one week, the Government has adopted a decision to close the nursery schools. At the same time, the minister asked nursery school teachers to wear face masks when working with children in the groups that will be formed next week. With regard to schools, the minister confirmed that all schools will remain open after the end of the autumn holidays. The Government will decide on the model to be used next Thursday.
Quarantine decisions replaced by certificates
Vesna-Kerstin Petrič of the Ministry of Health noted that in the current conditions, epidemiologists can only establish contacts with people who are newly confirmed positive. They explain to the infected people how they should behave and how to notify the people with whom they have been in contact. Epidemiologists are no longer calling people who were in contact with an infected person, and do not notify the Ministry of Health so that it can issue them a decision on home quarantine.
An emergency law was adopted that introduces new regulations, which will enter into force on the day after its publication in the Official Gazette. With the new regulations, the ministry is trying to ensure that as many people who are in close contact with an infected person as possible will be notified, and that when no other options are available they will stay home under home quarantine and will receive compensation for that time.
According to the epidemiologist’s instructions, anyone who tests positive should notify everyone who has been in close contact with the infected person. If they have installed the #OstaniZdrav (StayHealthy) app, they will enter a TAN code according to the epidemiologist’s instructions, which will allow everyone who has the app and is connected to remain informed about the risky contact with the infected person.
All people who are informed that they have been in close contact with an infected person either directly or via the app will have to stay at home and act as if they are under home quarantine.
If they are employed, they must inform their employer that they were in close contact. The employer together with occupational medicine specialists decides whether the person can work from home, or whether the work can be organised so that it will not be possible to pass the infection to other employees during working hours nor during travel to and from work, or whether the person should stay under home quarantine. The employer will arrange for the certificate to be sent to the employee’s home address. This certificate will allow the employee to collect compensation from the employer.
Self-employed people, business partners and farmers who are unable to arrange their work in such manner without posing a threat to others can obtain certificates by notifying their personal physician about having been informed of a close contact. The physician will, as in the first case, notify the NIJZ, so that it can send the person a certificate of referral to home quarantine. The person will be able to use this certificate to demand compensation from the Financial Administration (FURS). Employees of small employers that have not managed to establish contacts with occupational and sports medicine specialists can also get certificates via their personal physicians.
The ministry is aware that owing to the nature of their work, certain employees have remained working at home on agreement with their employer during the interim period, when neither decisions nor certificates were being issued. For people who are unable to work at home or to use hours or leave time, the employer will also receive a certificate for that period. All persons who were notified of the enforcement of home quarantine by an epidemiologist to date still require a decision from the ministry in order to collect compensation.
The NIJZ has also drafted guidelines for schools and nursery schools in the event of an infected child or employee. In such cases, the children in the same pod and their teachers and assistants should stay at home for 10 days. One of the parents of the child who will stay at home, i.e. in home quarantine, will be able to collect compensation for absence from work due to childcare. The school or nursery school will send the NIJZ a list of children whose parents need certificates. The NIJZ will send the certificate for the child to the address provided by the parents.
Those sent to home quarantine by the border police can collect compensation with a certificate issued to them by the police.
The protocols and guidelines regarding the details of the operation of this system will be published on the Ministry of Health’s and NIJZ’s websites immediately following the publication of the emergency law.
The new regulations do not include provisions for state supervision. We at the Ministry of Health believe that individuals are aware that the only way to get through this stage of the epidemic quickly is by following all expert instructions and recommendations.
Crossing the state border
Crossing the border is possible, but only for the 11 exceptions that apply to crossing the border between red regions, said Government spokesman Jelko Kacin at the end of the press conference.