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Monday, February 6, 2023

Stricter mask rules, temperature screenings, bar curfew

Responding to a sharp rise in new Covid-19 cases in Slovenia, the government has tightened rules for wearing face masks outdoors and at schools, introduced temperature screenings in the workplace and limited opening hours or bars and restaurants, coronavirus spokesperson Jelko Kacin told the press after Thursday’s government session.

Wearing masks in the open-air will apply as of Saturday at places frequented by many people such as marketplaces and city centres.

The compulsory face mask wearing in the classroom will apply to primary school children from 7th class on, who now wear them only in shared school areas.

The rule will also apply to secondary school pupils and students, as well as to teachers in all classes, including at kindergartens.

“The assessment of the epidemiological situation shows this measure could significantly contribute to schools continuing to function without any special disturbances.”

As of next week, changes to working hours of bars and restaurants will enter into force, expectedly to be limited to between 6am and 10pm, Kacin also said.

The OZS chamber of small business expressed opposition to this measure yesterday, arguing such curbs would further aggravate the situation in this line of business.

 

The OZS believes that closing bars and restaurants at 10pm will result in more uncontrolled socialising as people find alternative meeting places where they will not necessarily observe the recommended precautionary measures.

The government also decided today that upon entering their workplace, workers as well as visitors will have to have their body temperature taken, but it is not yet known when the measure will kick in.

The government also plans to change legislation to allow workers being on a sick leave for up to three days without having to visit the doctor.

Also in the pipeline are changes governing entry to Slovenia should the coronavirus situation escalate in neighbouring and other countries.

The government is also working on measures that would be put in place after the EU reaches a deal on the movement of people within the union, said Kacin.

The agreement could entail switching from quarantine to testing to be able to travel within the EU and could be reached in the middle of next week.

The government moreover prepared several measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus that would be implemented if the number of new cases continues to rise.

They concern public transport services, shops, pharmacies, post offices, banks and healthcare establishments in a bid to protect vulnerable groups, said Kacin.

The Infrastructure Ministry is for instance working on a regulation to allow certain vulnerable groups to use public transport in dedicated hours.

The measure would be introduced when the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) assessed public transport was no longer safe, the spokesperson explained.

The number of people allowed to assemble could also be further limited, from the current ten to expectedly six, as some countries have already done, said Kacin.

It has not yet been decided when the measure would be implemented.

The government also issued a number of recommendations, ranging from distance work and organising public events without catering to doing shopping only when really needed and postponing parties or celebrations of various anniversaries.

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