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Employers invited to facilitate teleworking, as the economy anticipates the ninth anti-corona package (ACP9)

A press conference on the current COVID-19 situation was attended by the State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Mateja Ribič, State Secretary Ajda Cuderman, and the Director-General of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Mitja Gorenšček.

On Monday, 5,395 PCR tests were performed and 1,080 cases were confirmed, which means that the share of positive tests is 20 percent. In addition, 47,035 rapid antigen tests were conducted. A total of 515 patients were hospitalised (11 fewer than the day before), of whom 105 are in need of intensive care; 15 patients died.

The following municipalities stand out in terms of positive cases confirmed yesterday: Nova Gorica (42), Šempeter-Vrtojba (11), Ajdovščina (10), Koper (34), Divača (14), Sežana (16), Kranj (32), Škofja Loka (14), Celje (77), Šentjur (19), Žalec (30), Novo mesto (22), Ljubljana (136) and Maribor (59).

The national 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 people stands at 595 cases and continues to rise. It is highest in the red-tiered regions, i.e. Goriška, Koroška and Obalno-kraška. The national 7-day incidence rate is rising as well, currently standing at 319 cases. It is highest in the Goriška region (476), which significantly diverges from the other regions. The 7-day daily average of confirmed cases is increasing, standing at 957.  

Job preservation measures as a priority

The key measures for preserving jobs remain temporary lay-offs and part-time work, Ribič emphasised. Other measures extended until 30 June by the Government include salary compensation for workers who were required to quarantine and the measure of salary compensation for workers unable to carry out work for reason of force majeure or due to the obligation to take care of children and the suspension of public transport. A worker not able to perform work for reason of force majeure will be entitled to compensation in the amount of 80 percent of the basic salary, while the amount of compensation may not be lower than the minimum wage. The emergency assistance measure in the form of a monthly basic income for the self-employed, partners, managers and founders of cooperatives has been extended, as well as the measure of the compensation of basic income for self-employed persons and company members for the duration of ordered home quarantine or due to the inability to carry out work for reason of force majeure or the obligation to take care of children.

More than 3,600 people benefited from the measure of the compensation of salaries for workers due to the inability to carry out work for reason of force majeure, with the total amount being 1.6 million euros. Even more people benefited from emergency assistance in the form of a monthly basic income in the amount from 700 to 1,100 euros: there were more than 51,000 beneficiaries in the first wave (with the total amounting to nearly 83 million euros) and almost 38,000 beneficiaries in the second wave (with the total amounting to nearly 120 million euros).

Ribič also encouraged employers to facilitate telework as much as possible where the nature of the work allows it. From January until the end of March, just under 1,600 business entities registered work from home for almost 77,000 workers. The numbers were highest in education, public administration and defence, social security, computer programming and consulting.

The provision of services essential for the functioning of society

According to Ajda Cuderman, at Sunday's session, the Government also adopted amendments to the Ordinance temporarily prohibiting the offering and sale of goods and services to consumers in the Republic of Slovenia, which enters into force on Thursday, 1 April, and is applicable up to and including 11 April. The restrictive measures applicable as of 12 April will be adopted in accordance with the traffic light system and the Government's roadmap for easing measures based on the epidemiological situation at the time. In accordance with the amended ordinance, only the provision of certain services that are essential for the normal functioning of society and individuals will be permitted.

In all regions, the following activities shall be allowed without the employees having to provide a negative test: pharmacies, service stations, financial services, post office and delivery services, chimney sweep services, service workshops for motor vehicles and bicycles (i.e. car tyre services, car mechanic services, car painting or bodywork workshops, bicycle repair workshops), construction works in or on uninhabited construction sites, houses or apartments, and outdoor services provided without any consumer contact (e.g. external arrangements, roofing, facade works), the offering and sale of goods and services at a distance, the sale of agricultural products on farms, the personal collection of goods or food at pick-up points where minimum consumer contact is ensured, between 5 a.m. and 22 p.m., whereby the consumption of the collected food and beverages in public areas is not permitted. Only the activities of preparing food and beverages for delivery and the activities of preparing and serving food and beverages in establishments that carry out catering activities for their employees or persons in care, and other essential services to ensure health and safety shall be permitted without a time limit.

Across the country, i.e. in all regions, the following activities shall be allowed if obligatory weekly testing of providers is ensured or a certificate confirming recovery from or vaccination against COVID-19 is provided: stores that mostly sell groceries, personal care and cleaning products, excluding the sale of clothing and footwear in these stores as exceptions, stores selling medical and orthopaedic aids, gardening centres, nurseries, florists and garden and agriculture supplies in stores, agricultural stores, markets, excluding the sale of clothing and footwear at markets as exceptions, shops offering technical goods, newsstands and kiosks for the sale of newspapers and magazines, and individual non-medical counselling and therapeutic services.

In all statistical regions, when offering and selling goods and services, it is necessary to comply with or ensure: the minimum contact with consumers possible in accordance with the instructions received from the NIPH; regular airing out or adequate ventilation of the premises and the provision of hand disinfection dispensers for consumers at the entry and exit points of the premises where the activities are carried out; and all the hygiene recommendations of the Ministry of Health and the NIPH for SARS-CoV-2 infection prevention, which are published on the websites of the Ministry and the NIPH.

The number of persons in enclosed public places where the activities of offering and selling goods and services to consumers are carried out remains limited to one customer per 30 m², or to a single customer if the business premises have an area of less than 30 m². As regards open markets, the activities of offering and selling goods and services to consumers are limited to one customer per 10 m².

Shopping centres must have a separate entrance and exit for customers and continue to provide 30 m² per customer throughout the shopping centre, while taking into account the maximum number of persons allowed in an enclosed public place for each shop within the shopping centre.

The economy anticipates the new ACP9 Act

The new measures restrict and affect different economic activities in different ways, while industry itself is not severely affected; the main problem is ensuring a sufficient number of people in the workplace, mainly because crossing the border has become more difficult, and due to problems with finding and providing childcare, warned Gorenšček. The problems in the trade sector are more significant, where some trade activities are to close again, such as the textile and footwear industry. Among service activities, hairdressing and beauty salons will also be closing. All of these will thus be joining the tourism and meetings industry in this respect. It is imperative to find solutions for these activities in the form of new government measures and by preparing the new ACP9 intervention Act. The activities closed in accordance with the Ordinance require a higher coverage of fixed costs, compensation for lost revenues and measures to improve liquidity, with the possibility of financing working capital to preserve jobs.