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Prime Minister Janez Janša and Deputy Prime Ministers Zdravko Počivalšek and Matej Tonin discuss the Government’s plans and measures to contain the Coronavirus epidemic in the coming weeks and months

Today, Prime Minister Janez Janša, together with Deputy Prime Ministers Zdravko Počivalšek and Matej Tonin, took part in a press conference on the Government’s measures and plans to contain the epidemic in the coming weeks and months and information regarding the current ongoing vaccination campaign against COVID-19. "As anticipated in December, when we received the European forecasts for the first half of this year, we entered the most difficult period of the epidemic, but we have not yet reached the peak. Most of the northern hemisphere, including the EU, has found itself in a similar situation. Even countries that have a much more robust, modern and capable system than ourselves are facing problems unlike any they had to deal with before," stated the Prime Minister at the outset.

PM Janez Janša and Deputy Prime Ministers Zdravko Počivalšek and Matej Tonin discuss the Government’s plans and measures to contain the Coronavirus epidemic in the coming weeks and months.

PM Janez Janša and Deputy Prime Ministers Zdravko Počivalšek and Matej Tonin discuss the Government’s plans and measures to contain the Coronavirus epidemic in the coming weeks and months. | Author Kabinet predsednika vlade

He pointed out that the Slovenian Government is the only government limited by the Constitutional Court’s decision to adopt and re-examine measures and ordinances on a weekly basis. He also said that the seeming changes to the regime caused a great deal of dissatisfaction in the last month. The regime, however, did not change; in fact, the validity of most of the ordinances was merely extended. "Some of the easing of measures agreed upon for the holiday season within the European framework went beyond the roadmap to ease measures adopted by the Government on 3 December. The epidemiological situation in Slovenia as well as in other European countries has changed, which is why yesterday the Government partly adapted the roadmap to ease measures and the response plan for the epidemic in 2021, and supplemented it with more detailed criteria for the relaxation of measures by region," added Prime Minister Janša.

He went on to say that "after long discussions, we realised that any attempt at easing measures – which is something everyone in this country desires – as well as conducting our lives as normally as possible during the epidemic and reacting on a regional level will only be possible from the moment the country as a whole meets certain criteria, certain indicators, which will allow us to ease measures in the regions with the best epidemiological situation."

As the situation in Slovenia – considering the epidemiological picture – is serious and the number of infections has, as expected, increased after the holidays, we first and foremost need time to allow the situation to stabilise and the curve to turn downwards. As the current forecasts are not the most optimistic, the Government has decided to extend the validity of the restrictive measures, without the exceptions that were applicable at the time of the holidays, until at least 18 January.

"The national indicators for the whole country, which range from black to green and are based on the schemes used by most European countries, remain the same. Some changes were made to the measures that fall within a specific category or depend on the situation in an individual region," said Prime Minister Janša, who stressed that it is not enough for each region to reach low enough numbers of infections in the last seven days and of hospitalised patients, "but it is necessary to achieve the national criterion in order to introduce a regional approach."

"We will try to introduce a regional approach when the entire country, according to both criteria, i.e. the number of infections in the last seven days and the number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in the Slovenian healthcare system at the national level, drops below an average of 1,350 infections in the last seven days and below 1,200 occupied beds or hospitalised patients," said the Prime Minister.

He went on to say that if the situation remains stable in the following seven days, at least some Slovenian regions will reach a point on 18 January, when this approach will be adopted for the first time, for relaxation measures to be implemented. "We are counting on achieving that target on the national level by then," said the Prime Minister.

He stressed that the roadmap is not something that is implemented but rather makes the approach easier to understand. "Unfortunately, the current regional trends show that the situation is deteriorating rather than improving," said the Prime Minister, adding that differences between the regions require a selective approach both in terms of relaxation and vaccination.

As regards the COVID-19 vaccination plan, the Prime Minister announced that the next shipment of the Pfizer vaccine – 16,500 doses – will arrive in Slovenia next week, which will also be the first week when primary health care centres receive part of the vaccine shipment, with priority being given to the most-at-risk regions to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups of the population outside homes for the elderly, mainly people in the oldest age groups, who are most at risk of dying," said the Prime Minister.

Deputy Prime Minister Zdravko Počivalšek stressed that the implications of the epidemic continue to show in both the economy and healthcare system. However, Slovenia has done the best it could to deal with them, particularly by coming up with quick and effective solutions.

The Government has adopted numerous intervention measures, costing billions of euros, which have helped save many companies and jobs.

He also pointed out that at yesterday's session members of the Government held a professional, constructive and productive discussion aimed at better controlling the epidemic. The Government extended the relevant ordinances and adopted certain decisions outlining in clearer terms the direction taken to control and contain the epidemic.

Based on the assessment of the expert group for the containment and control of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Government also adopted a new colour-coded roadmap to ease measures, said Mr Počivalšek. This means that once it is established that the criteria for transitioning to the next epidemiological phase have been fulfilled, the Government will adopt measures that will enter into force the following day.

"The aim of the colour-coded structure is to re-introduce greater predictability concerning the opening and closing of activities," said Deputy Prime Minister Počivalšek.

He also said that the Ministry was constantly receiving various wishes, expectations and initiatives, from both chambers of commerce and key stakeholders, as well as calls for help from citizens. The Ministry employees make every effort to listen to everyone and try to find an answer and a solution for everyone.  From the self-employed to micro-, small, medium-sized and large enterprises.

"First and foremost, in developing solutions, we follow the assessments and opinions of health professionals and the current epidemiological situation in the country," he emphasised, concluding that the Ministry's main goal was to lift, in the shortest possible time and for good, the restrictive measures and to relaunch activities in all industries.

Deputy Prime Minister Matej Tonin pointed out that the Government wants to increase predictability and resilience, which is exactly what the adopted roadmap does. People will know what to expect in a given phase. He emphasised that resilience can be built up in several ways, first by adhering to the prescribed measures but also by getting vaccinated in the highest possible numbers.