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Health and safety at work is extremely important in the corona period

Today’s press conference on the current situation regarding COVID-19 was attended by the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj, the head of the vaccine advisory group Dr Bojana Beovič, Deana Potza of the Health Inspectorate and Deputy General Director of Police Tomaž Pečjak.

Janez Cigler Kralj

Janez Cigler Kralj | Author Primož Predalič, Urad vlade za komuniciranje

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The Minister of Labour Janez Cigler Kralj recalled that on 28 April we marked World Safety and Health at Work Day and that on Saturday we celebrate 1 May, Labour Day, so he thanked all citizens for following all measures and stated that by acting responsibly we will build a better tomorrow together. Today, perhaps more than ever, health and safety at work are extremely important, the minister stressed and, during the corona period in particular, the ministry is closely monitoring the situation on the labour market and trying to respond to current events as quickly as possible.

According to the Slovenian Employment Service, on 26 April 79,462 people were registered as looking for work, which is 4% less than at the end of March 2021, when 86,638 people were registered as unemployed. After three months of growth, i.e. November and December 2020 and January 2021, the number of unemployed started to fall in February. In March, the number of jobseekers continued to decline and the number of people in work increased. In additional to seasonal factors, this is associated with the gradual easing of restrictions. At the end of March, the number of registered unemployed stood at 82,638, 6.1% less than in February and 6.1% more than in March 2020. The figures certainly fill us with optimism that the measures are the right ones, the Minister added.

Regarding the situation with infections in homes for the elderly, the Minister pointed out that the situation has calmed down significantly since vaccinations began.

In the last week, 28 residents (a total of 11,396 in the second wave) and 14 employees a total of 4,637 in the second wave) were newly infected in homes for the elderly. The number of deaths also remains low. The vast majority of infected residents feel well and have only mild symptoms or none at all.

Minister Cigler Kralj went on to say that upon the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence he wanted the government to appropriately compensate the victims of military aggression in the Republic of Slovenia in 1991, so at its regular session this week, it approved amendments to three laws and proposed that the National Assembly consider them by summary procedure, namely:

The proposal of an Act amending the War Invalids Act, the purpose of which is to enable the exercise of status and rights based on impairment of health due to illness or exacerbation of an illness acquired during military aggression against the Republic of Slovenia in 1991. The amendment to the law sets a deadline for submitting a request for recognition of the status and rights of a military invalid or civilian war invalid on the basis of health damage due to illness or exacerbation of illness acquired due to military aggression against the Republic of Slovenia in 1991, and requests for the recognition of the rights of family members of those who died as a result of illness acquired in these circumstances. The deadline is 31 December 2021.

The proposal for an Act amending the Victims of War Violence Act, the purpose and aim of which is to ensure legal protection for persons who lost a parent, spouse, or descendant in 1991 due to military aggression against the Republic of Slovenia. Legal protection will also be provided to family members of civilians who lost their lives due to military aggression. The amendment recognises the status of a victim of war violence to family members of a person who died, was killed or went missing as a result of acts of violence or coercive measures of the Yugoslav People’s Army or internal affairs bodies of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 25 May and 18 October 1991. The period also includes the “Pekre Events” in Maribor, and other examples of violent acts that resulted in the loss of life.

The proposal for an Act amending the Act on the Special Rights of Victims of the War for Slovenia in 1991, the purpose and aim of which is to enable children as newly appointed beneficiaries and spouses or common-law partners of victims and parents to exercise their right to compensation. The law defines special rights, such as a lifetime monthly annuity, compensation under a special law governing war reparations, a scholarship, priority in admission to a student dormitory and the right to have the costs of school lunches covered. Following the proposed amendment, the right to compensation is extended to children and additionally recognised to spouses and common-law partners of the victims and parents. The State has already paid compensation to some beneficiaries due to the death of a father, spouse or common-law partner, but not children who lost their lives due to the events related to the military aggression against the Republic of Slovenia in 1991.

Almost 30 years since the events related to the war for Slovenia in 1991, it is high time that all children who suffered damage due to the loss of a parent be granted flat-rate compensation. It is therefore proposed to amend the law by adding a new right to flat-rate compensation which will be granted to all children regardless of their age at the time the parent died. The bill takes into account the fact that, due to the distance of some events, some relatives of those who lost their lives in the war for Slovenia in 1991 have already died, so it gives the new right to flat-rate compensation under this law to their descendants of the first order, in accordance with the regulations governing inheritance. In accordance with the Act on the Special Rights of the Victims in the War for Slovenia of 1991 (ZPPZV91), the spouses and common-law partners of victims and the parents were entitled to compensation under a special law.

Dr Beovič pointed out that so far in Slovenia, 18–23% of people have been vaccinated with their first dose in the regions or 20% in Slovenia as a whole. International comparisons show that vaccination in Slovenia is very similar to that in the European Union. If we look at the proportions by country, we are somewhere around the middle.

She stressed that although complete vaccination is important for full protection, the first dose is important for limiting the circulation of the virus and protecting people as protection against infection is a good 70% after vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine and 80% after the mRNA vaccines. In addition, the first dose protects against severe illness; for example, the Pfizer vaccine by 74% and the AstraZeneca vaccine as much as 100%.

The priority groups for vaccination as considered in Slovenia have proved to be very sensible as we have almost completely stopped the disease among residents of homes for the elderly, individual outbreaks are due to the fact that the vaccine does not give 100% protection, which can be a problem for herd immunity as unvaccinated persons coming into contact with residents. In all cases of infection in residents, the course of the illness was very mild.

COVID-19 mortality has been significantly reduced, and excess mortality for this disease is no longer evident.

She drew attention to the sad fact that people in their 60s and 70s who should be vaccinated against COVID-19 are dying every day in Slovenia. The death of people due to COVID-19 cannot be understood and is not necessary nowadays, pointed out Dr Beovič, because everyone could protect themselves in time by getting vaccinated if they wanted to. The side effects of COVID-19 vaccines can be unpleasant as well as dangerous. And even if they are really dangerous, they are particularly rare in the age groups most at risk from the disease. For people over the age of 50, there is no dilemma about getting vaccinated against COVID: vaccination should be arranged as soon as possible and the question of choosing which vaccine to have is completely unnecessary.

Referring to a report on inspections carried out in the last week, Deana Potza pointed out that a total of 3,608 inspections had been carried out, with the issuing of 20 misdemeanour sanctions, 312 warnings under the Misdemeanours Act and 212 administrative measures.

The highest number of non-compliant facilities or locations were in hospitality, namely 122, which represents a 26% non-compliance rate, and shops, where there were 116 non-compliant facilities, or 19%. The most measures were also imposed in these two areas, i.e. hospitality and retail. The reasons for the measures were mostly non-maintenance of social distancing measures, non-use of protective masks in indoor and outdoor premises, non-compliance with the conditions for conducting catering activities and the failure to provide disinfectants.

In the past week, there were 175 vaccination centre inspections, of which 163 were regular and 12 were extraordinary inspections on the basis of received notifications. This time, only one case of non-compliance was found, namely at the concessionaire within the Zdravstveni dom Izola (Izola Healthcare Centre) vaccination centre. The non-compliance was rectified immediately.

The inspectorate notes that the situation on the ground is improving. The organisation and implementation of vaccination is largely in accordance with the National Strategy; furthermore, additional vaccination centres are moving to actively inviting people for vaccination.

Tomaž Pečjak pointed out that, in addition to their usual work and tasks, the Police are also supervising the implementation of the provision of ordinances governing individual measures to prevent the spread of the virus. In most cases, these are controls on measures to restrict public gathering and travel.

He stressed that the purpose of the police monitoring of compliance with the measures is to achieve the legally pursued goal of preventing the spread of the virus using the mildest means and measures and is always based on the principle of proportionality. Last but not least, the argument that police officers really are trying to apply the most lenient measures is reflected in the fact that the vast majority of proceedings and established violations – almost 83% – resulted in only a warning being issued, Mr Pečjak pointed out.

Regarding the amendment to the Decree on determining the conditions for entry into the Republic of Slovenia due to the containment and control of the infectious disease COVID-19, which entered into force on Wednesday, 28 April 2021 and abolished checkpoints on the borders with Austria and Italy, he explained that, despite the abolition of checkpoints, the Police will continue to carry out periodic checks at road crossings at internal borders (where we have had checkpoints so far and also at other road crossings where only local people have been permitted to cross) and thus continue to check whether persons meet the condition for entry into the country without referral to quarantine at home under said decree and mitigation measures.

The Police still advise travellers to check for conditions for entry into the destination country and also the conditions for return before travelling abroad.

On the occasion of the upcoming Labour Day holiday, there is also advice for all cultural organisations, wind bands and others that perform “vigilante parades” to comply with the current provisions of the Decree temporarily banning the gathering of people to limit the spreading of COVID-19 that restrict the organisation of parades to 10 persons with social distancing. This does not apply in the case of close family members or members of the same household, subject to the restrictions and provisions of this decree.

The same restrictions on the number of participants apply at bonfires. As numerous smaller privately organised bonfires are expected to due to the impossibility of organising public bonfires, the Police politely recommend and advise people to pay attention to fire safety and ensure adequate space around fires to prevent them spreading to buildings and causing injury.