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Government complements the plan for the release of COVID measures

Ms Ignacija Fridl Jarc, State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Mr Simon Zajc, State Secretary at Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, Mr Milan Krek, Director of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), and Ms Tjaša Žohar Čretnik, Director of the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food (NLZOH), participated in the press conference on the state of play of COVID-19.

Yesterday, 4,636 PCT tests were carried out, and 597 new infections were confirmed. A total of 8,466 rapid antigen tests were also carried out. Today, 450 patients are treated in hospitals, 123 on intensive care units, and 45 patients were dismissed from hospitals. Four persons died.

Modification of the plan for releasing measures, possible interruption of quarantine again

The moderator of the press conference, Ms Maja Bratuša, introduced the changes in the plan to release measures taken by the Government yesterday. Currently, Slovenia is in a yellow phase. According to the opinion of the Advisory Group, the Government has completed the plan for the release of measures. It introduced the so-called “RVT” condition in the plan, which will also apply in the green phase as public life is gradually opened up.

Yesterday, however, the Government also decided that from Saturday, 15 May, attending events and gatherings is allowed with up to a maximum of 50 participants. From Monday, 17 May, and all sports competitions, whether for recreational athletes or registered athletes, are to be allowed. The presence of viewers in competitions is also possible again, in line with the restrictions outlined above. Sport recreational activities may be carried out individually or in groups up to a maximum of 50 participants.

Ms Bratuša also pointed out that as of Saturday, 14 May, when entering the Republic of Slovenia, it would again be possible to interrupt the quarantine with a negative PCR test on the fifth day of the quarantine.

Krek: Releasing public life requires more discipline in compliance with preventive measures

Mr Milan Krek, Director of the NIJZ, presented the broader epidemiological picture in the country. He pointed out that the number of newly infected people in Slovenia was slowly decreasing. Fewer infections were discovered in the population age 65 and older. The highest number of infections occurred in the working-age population. The reproductive number fell below 1. Mr Krek said that it was the aim there would be less than three hundred infections per day as soon as possible. Within ten days, experts predict that we could enter the green phase, and more likely in the first days of June.

Mr Krek also presented statistics on the progress of mass vaccination. He said that we exceeded half a million people (24 per cent) vaccinated with the first dose and 250,000 who were vaccinated with the second dose (13 per cent of the population). There are 192,000 reconvalescents.  If we combine this number with those who have already received the first dose, 34 per cent of the population in Slovenia is vaccinated. From 25 December 2020 until the end of this June, Slovenia is expected to have 2.6 million vaccine doses at its disposal, allowing 75 per cent of people to be vaccinated. Mr Krek also said that anyone who had not yet registered for vaccination would receive an SMS message to do so as soon as possible.

Žohar Čretnik: The English version of the virus is prevailing

Ms Tjaša Žohar Čretnik, Director of NLZOH, presented the results of tracking the SARS-COV2 versions. She said that the English version was slightly more “aggressive” in Slovenia than the previous one. However, it is also true that the English version did not give rise to such a severe epidemic wave as, for example, in some other countries.

Ms Žohar Čretnik also presented the monitoring of the virus through wastewater. Data show that the situation in Ljubljana, Domžale and Koper is relatively stable. The fall in the volume of the virus is observed in the Šaleška Valley. An improvement is also visible in Celje. In Maribor, the situation is stable, but at the level of January, which is slightly higher than in other places.

Both the Director of the NIJZ and the Director of the NLZOH also addressed the epidemiological situation of the Indian virus strain, which was confirmed yesterday for the first time in Slovenia.

New developments in catering, tourism and gambling

Given the more favourable epidemiological picture, the Government decided yesterday, based on prior consultation with the economy and expert group on COVID-19, to further release restrictions on catering, tourism and gambling activities. All changes will apply from Monday, 17 May.

From that day on, catering will be allowed from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. The distance between the edges of the tables must be at least 3 metres. However, the distance between persons sitting at the table is no longer specified. The condition of four persons per table in catering establishments shall no longer apply to families with children under 18 years.

The limit of 20 square metres of business area per consumer no longer applies to children up to 18 years of age accompanied by guardians or persons who need to be accompanied. If you were so far considered being two persons when entering the shop together with your child, you now represent a bubble, the State Secretary explained.

Everywhere in Slovenia, campsites may offer up to 70 per cent of their available units. This quota does not include “flat-rate persons”, i.e. those who have a leased parcel throughout the season.

Gambling halls may operate again, and special gambling may be organised. The working hours and conditions of entry into the indoor premises in the gaming sector are the same as for the catering establishments (reconvalescents, vaccinated, tested).  The working time shall also be set between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. Gambling halls may offer up to 50 per cent of their available capacity, i.e. half of the gaming sites.

RVT condition as a safeguard for health and reputation

In his presentation, State Secretary Zajc drew particular attention to the importance of complying with the R(econvalescents) – V(vaccinated) – T(ested) condition allowing entry into the indoor premises of casinos and catering establishments. He pointed out that condition was, on the one hand, an opportunity for the owners of catering establishments and casinos to protect the health of the guests. On the other hand, the RVT condition allows sites offering such services to maintain secure locations. The restoration of the reputation of a restaurant, hotel or casino, which would become a focal point of infection, would, of course, be time-consuming.

Finally, State Secretary Zajc reminded all citizens that we are all responsible for containing the epidemic. The decrees are clear, he said, and the exceptions are clearly stated. Avoidance and circumventing the rules does not benefit anyone in the long term.

Cultural events allowed again, participation of up to 50 persons under condition of RVT

In the beginning, Ms Ignacija Fridl Jarc, State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, stressed that the epidemiological situation makes it possible, in addition to cultural institutions, to resume cultural events on a larger scale under certain conditions.

The gathering of persons in cultural institutions is allowed according to the square footage of the premises and the restriction of the collection of up to 50 persons. Outdoor or indoor cultural events may take place under the following conditions:

  • the provision of seating places is mandatory;
  • seating places may, taking into account the instructions of the NIJZ, be 50 per cent occupied;
  • employees need to continue testing once a week;
  • visitors may attend an event subject to the condition of RVT (except for any persons younger than 18 years of age accompanied by adults);
  • limitation to square footage and limits of gatherings for cultural events does not apply.

Regarding the exercise of religious freedom, the collection of up to 50 persons in outdoor and indoor areas is allowed again. A maximum of 50 per cent of seat occupancy is allowed, and participants who are not part of the same household must maintain a distance of 1.5 m.