Here is the address of Prime Minister Janez Janša to the citizens:
Together with the European continent and most of the rest of the world, we are in the middle of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. While in the spring the virus first spread only from China to a few centers in Europe, in the autumn, after the summer release of the movement across the EU, it spread locally across all the continent. This fact significantly reduces the effectiveness of some blockades, which in March and April protected Slovenia and some other EU countries from a recurrence of the Lombardy crisis.
According to the direct consequences of the second wave, Slovenians are still among the least affected EU countries, but the situation is dangerously worsening. Together with the rest of Europe, we are forced to take measures to control the spread of the virus, to protect health and lives.
After a thorough discussion on the dangers of the second wave of the epidemic, we reached full agreement at the European Council at the end of last week on the hierarchy of values we use in the fight against the virus in the EU: First there are lives, then there is health, and then there is the economy, especially vital activities. Everything else, from entertainment to many other activities as well as some liberties, will have to wait a while. The more able we are to follow this scale of values through measures and behavior, the sooner we will be able to return to normal life, at least for the most part. The measures that are ready and will be activated if necessary are proportionate. All institutions in the country are functioning and will continue to operate also in potentially more severe situations. We are in daily contact with the governments of other EU countries, we consult, we study the various measures they take and we monitor their effects.
The EU also agreed on recommendations about border crossing during the epidemic and the possible escalation of measures to tighten internal border regimes. Slovenia has been following these recommendations for some time, which prevent the recurrence of blockades from the times of chaos in March this year.
European priorities for vaccination of the population after the vaccine is available are also presented. Some tests are yielding promising results and we believe an effective vaccine will be available to everyone by spring at the latest. Vaccination will be free of charge in Slovenia. First it will be the turn of the medical staff, then the most vulnerable groups, those working in critical infrastructure, those working in jobs where it is not possible to maintain sufficient distance from each other, and then everyone else in the shortest possible time. But before the vaccine, we still have a demanding cold period of the pandemic ahead of us, which requires effective action from all of us, and above all a high level of responsibility and solidarity.
We are in difficult times that force us into even the most difficult, that is, to change our habits and partly even to change our way of life. But if we think about it soberly, obstacles are far from insurmountable. Even more. With relatively small adjustments to the behavior of the vast majority of us for a short time, we can work together to overcome these challenges as well. We can do a lot by downloading and using the #StayHealthy app (#OstaniZdrav), especially if we are Covid positive. However, we must do our utmost to support our health workers, doctors and nurses, nursing staff in homes for the elderly and other institutions, those working in critical infrastructure and in all those activities that cannot be stopped even during a pandemic because health and survival depend on them. Since the spring, we have significantly strengthened our organization based on our experience in healthcare, but unfortunately human resources are still limited because they cannot be doubled in a short time.
There have been times in human history when the fate of many lay in the hands of a handful. However, the pandemic has posed a greater, double challenge to the entire democratic world based on freedom, and also to us Slovenians: The health and lives of all of us are in the hands of our fellow citizens who work in health care. At the same time, we all know that they will only be able to accomplish their mission if we all help them with responsible behavior so that the rate of spread of the virus does not exceed the capacity of our healthcare. We are all tired from the long months of battling the virus. But let us keep in mind our fellow citizens who are seriously ill and their suffering. Let us imagine doctors and nurses in the long days and nights, exposed to the risk of infections, in protective masks and spacesuits. And all that we all have to give up will be shown to us in a different light.
With the fifth virus protection and human assistance package, we have provided additional funds to pay healthcare professionals caring for covid patients and also an additional payment for anyone who will be transferred to another healthcare facility for this purpose.
In the previous four packages, we have significantly mitigated the financial and social consequences of the wave of the epidemic up to this point. No one was forgotten. And the sixth package will soon be ready, with which we will promptly eliminate the consequences of the cold wave of the pandemic. Due to effective measures, Slovenia is one of the few countries that improved its credit rating during the coronavirus and thus improved its position on the financial markets. Within the EU budgetary framework and in the Recovery and Resilience Fund, we have secured significant resources for rapid recovery and growth in the coming years. Never before in a comparable period has Slovenia had such investment opportunities at its disposal as it has in the next three years. If we maintain political stability and eliminate bureaucratic clutter, we can ensure a significant increase in prosperity in record time: higher wages and pensions, sustainable development, support innovation, build new hospitals, homes for the elderly and missing infrastructure, strengthen our pension system, better reward good work and management, create new well-paid jobs and modernize and simplify governance at all levels.
So we are not facing an abyss into which we will surely fall, but a challenge that we will overcome together. And again, the time of sun and freedom will come, when the virus and protective masks will only be a distant memory. Again, there will be football matches, cinemas and theaters, travel and holidays. Everything we have to temporarily give up will still be here. Life and a new experience of shared success will make up for lost time.
Thank you all together and thank you individually for everything for everything you have already done and will do for your own safety and health and for protecting the health and lives of the weakest. This will enable us to live and survive and for Slovenia to move forward. Stay healthy.«