Borders will be gradually reopened on the basis of agreements with individual countries
Borders will be gradually reopened, and the amended ordinance gives the state a discretion to refuse entry to EU citizens who do not have temporary or permanent residence in Slovenia and show clear signs of infection or disease, said the Government's spokesperson, Jelko Kacin, at today's press conference. The Government has amended the Ordinance on imposing and implementing measures for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 at border crossings at the external border and at checkpoints at the internal borders of the Republic of Slovenia, which was adopted on 14 May 2020.
Today's press conference on the current situation regarding the COVID-19 epidemic was also attended by the head of the Border Police Division of the Uniformed Police Directorate of the General Police Directorate, Melita Močnik, who stressed that, for the time being, only citizens of Slovenia and foreigners with permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia may cross the border without having to go into quarantine. The National Institute of Public Health, which is preparing an assessment of the epidemiological situation in all countries, giving priority consideration to neighbouring countries, will play a key role in the reopening of borders.
By amending the Ordinance, the Government has also responded to the challenges faced by carriers, as many of their employees are citizens of other countries. By listing such persons as exceptions who are not required to undergo quarantine upon entry into Slovenia, the Government has enabled the smooth running of international transport services. One of the important reasons for not imposing quarantine was also daily cross-border commuting as kindergartens, schools and faculties reopened and commuting by persons working in neighbouring countries.
The Government is striving to conclude technical agreements with neighbouring countries, EU Member States and Schengen Area members, and, in so doing, will also comply with a possible general agreement at the EU level, stressed spokesperson Jelko Kacin. On the basis of the aforementioned agreements, a list of countries whose citizens are allowed entry into Slovenia will be prepared and regularly updated. Many stakeholders will participate in reaching these agreements; as already mentioned, the National Institute of Public Health will play a crucial role in this process, as it will continuously assess the situation in neighbouring countries and other EU Members States. The list of countries, which has not yet been determined, will be published on the websites of the National Institute of Public Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As a rule, Slovenian citizens will continue to be allowed to travel abroad if they demonstrate a compelling reason for their travel – with the exception of Croatia.
As the head of the Border Police Division, Melita Močnik, stressed at the press conference, Slovenia citizens may travel abroad only if they demonstrate a compelling reason for their travel. The only exception is Croatia; however, even for tourist travel, travellers are required to have appropriate certificates (e.g. reservation of tourist accommodation or other certificates proving a justified reason for travelling).
Except for the owners of agricultural land on both sides of the national border, the crossing of the border is still only possible at certain checkpoints and open border crossings. For all other citizens, however, no free movement is allowed to other countries until bilateral agreements are concluded with neighbouring and other countries.
Entry into Slovenia
Regarding entry into Slovenia, the head of the Border Police Division said that there were no restrictions for Slovenian citizens entering Slovenia, but that they were expected to follow the National Institute of Public Health's measures and instructions. The same applies to other citizens of the European Union who have permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia. If they do not meet this condition, EU citizens who show clear signs of infection or disease will be refused to enter Slovenia.
The same provisions applying to the family members of EU and Slovenian citizens will also apply to the citizens of associate members of the Schengen Area, i.e. Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.
Save for the exceptions explicitly mentioned in the Ordinance (e.g. carriers, persons with permanent or temporary residence), third-country nationals are still required to provide proof of the urgent need to travel to the EU at the external Schengen border. For such persons, the state of health, the need to travel (emergency family conditions, residence in Slovenia, carriers and others on the basis of economic reasons) and the reasons for entry in accordance with the Schengen Borders Code will be determined before entering the Schengen Area.
Kindergartens and schools, shopping centres, indoor areas of bars and restaurants and small accommodation establishments reopened from today
The Government's spokesman Jelko Kacin described the opening of kindergartens and schools, including residence halls for upper-secondary students, as a key event of the day at the press conference, and emphasised that the competent minister and representatives of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport were closely monitoring the developments in the field.
At the same time, offering and selling goods and services to consumers is gradually being eased, and all shops are being opened, including those in shopping centres, small accommodation establishments with up to 30 rooms, indoor areas of restaurants and bars, and some other tourist services. Coordination of the third package of measures to mitigate the effects of the novel coronavirus, which is expected to be discussed by the Government at its session on Tuesday, 19 May, is also underway.
According to the latest data, only 25 COVID-19 patients were hospitalised in Slovenia yesterday, and only five of them are seriously ill. One patient was discharged to home care, no new infections were confirmed, and no COVID-19 related fatalities were reported. If today's easing of measures does not worsen the epidemiological situation, new cautious steps for further easing will follow in 14 days, the Government's spokesman Jelko Kacin commented on the current epidemic situation at the end of the press conference.