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Anti-Coronavirus Package 6 estimated at 1 billion euros in relief for businesses and individuals

Slovenian Minister of Finance Andrej Šircelj, Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek, Medical Director of the Murska Sobota General Hospital Daniel Grabar and government spokesman Jelko Kacin spoke today at a press conference about the current situation regarding COVID-19.

A record number of 7515 tests were conducted on Tuesday, with 2217 cases confirmed positive, with the positivity rate at 29.5 percent. 40 people died, the most in a single day to date, 34 in hospitals and 6 at elderly care homes.

1192 people were hospitalised, with 96 patients released from hospital but 151 patients admitted yesterday, and therefore despite the 34 deaths, the number of hospitalised patients increased by 21. 202 patients were in intensive care, five more than on the previous day.

The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants is rising in the Pomurje region, which has already exceeded 1500 positive cases, while in the Gorenjska region the number of positive cases has fallen from 2000 to below 1600 in the last few days.

Data from the municipalities indicates that yesterday there were 31 new positive cases in Murska Sobota, 26 in Beltinci and 27 in Ptuj. The data for the Gorenjska region is as follows: Kranj 67, Jesenice 43, Radovljica 38, Škofja Loka 32, Tržič 26, Preddvor 20, Bled 13 and Bohinj 10. At the edges of the region, Idrija recorded 30, Domžale 43 and Kamnik 44 new cases. Celje has 30 positive cases, Slovenska Bistrica a full 71, Velenje 59, Žalec 22, Novo mesto 66, Trebnje 25 and Zagorje ob Savi 20.

According to Grabar, 147 ordinary hospital beds were occupied at the Murska Sobota General Hospital yesterday, 23 of which were in intensive care units. The majority of these patients are on ventilators. A similar number of patients at the hospital are being treated for non-Covid related illnesses in more than 140 beds.

To date they have treated 295 Covid patients. Unfortunately, their capacities have been fully occupied since the middle of last week, so a total of 18 patients have been moved to other healthcare facilities over the past ten days, primarily in Novo mesto and Brežice. A seriously ill 22-year-old female patient was moved to the University Medical Centre in Ljubljana yesterday.

Among healthcare personnel, 116 have tested positive for Covid, 30 of whom have returned to work, with 86 currently in quarantine. 130 have other illnesses, with a total of 202 employees absent from the work process, which includes 12 nursing care providers from other healthcare institutions.

The sponsor of Anti-Coronavirus Package 6, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj, stated that the anti-coronavirus packages are designed to help the economy, and indirectly therefore also individuals. He noted that in May the unemployment figures were over 90,000, while in October that figure was lower, with 83,000 seeking employment according to the records. The measures are focused on individual sectors, of which the most heavily affected are service activities such as tourism and hospitality industry.

The measures overseen by the Ministry of Finance include a surety bond scheme, which companies have not yet begun to take advantage of to a large extent, but this will happen when they decide on new investments or restructuring. At this time, companies are primarily seeking liquidity loans, which are currently being offered by the banks. Another significant measure is a measure for deferment of taxes and contributions.

The specific solutions set out in the laws are tailored to labour-intensive industries such as tourism and the meetings industry, said Počivalšek. In addition to measures providing subsidies for furloughing employees, part-time work and government surety bonds for bank loans, the Government is also introducing new measures which will allow companies to partially cover their fixed costs, which was not included in the previous packages. These include rents, building land fees, insurance premiums, and energy costs. With this measure the Government is now providing assistance to the meetings industry.

Počivalšek noted that the clearest confirmation that the current economic and social measures are effective is the high ratings that Slovenia is receiving from international financial institutions. This has allowed the Government to borrow at exceptionally favourable rates.

The entry into force of the higher minimum wage on 1 January 2021 could lead to an additional 10,000 unemployed, primarily in geographic areas and sectors in which people will have a difficult time finding new and different employment. Therefore the ministry is working with the trade unions to find a way to delay its entry into force. The ministry is inviting both employers and employees to join the debate and to reject the criticism of the trade unions that the minister, via the strategic council at the ministry, which is staffed with representatives of businesses and chambers of commerce, is talking to one side and ignoring the other.

At the regular session of the Government on Thursday, the Minister will encourage the seeking of a compromise between the demands of Minister of Health Tomaž Gantar to impose additional restrictive measures and the interests of his own ministry to try to relax some of the measures. He believes that the Government has taken its decisions thoughtfully and professionally throughout the crisis, and that it will continue to do so.