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Lockdown only avoidable if we fully comply with measures

Today's press conference to give a COVID-19 update was presented by State Secretary at the Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Simon Zajc, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, Damir Orehovec, and the State Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Franc Vindišar, who explained the new government ordinance, which sets out measures to enable the economy and society to function in the current serious epidemiological situation. The ordinance is in force as of 8 November.

Državni sekretar Franc Vindišar za govornico

Državni sekretar Franc Vindišar | Author Ukom

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Current epidemiological data

A total of 7,615 PCR tests were carried out yesterday, confirming 3344 new infections, and the proportion of positive PCR tests was 44%. There are currently over 37,600 active cases in the country.  As many as 874 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of whom 193 are in intensive care units. 12 more people died.

State Secretary Vindišar: Hospitals are at capacity

The epidemic situation in the country is extremely serious, and hospitals are at capacity, treating 874 COVID-19 patients, 193 of whom are in intensive care units. He called on citizens to behave responsively to fully comply the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule and to get vaccinated as this is the only way to curb the epidemic.

To comprehensively manage the current situation on the ground, the coordination and mobilisation of the entire health system – public health institutions, concessionaires and private healthcare providers – has been activated.

This is a very challenging task, stressed State Secretary Vindišar, which is why the Minister of Health Janez Pokljukar has appointed coordinators for individual areas who will communicate with the providers on a daily basis and coordinate the redeployment of staff and equipment.

The areas are the following:

  • COVID hospitals, a military health unit, health dispatch service;
  • non-COVID hospitals;
  • psychiatric hospitals;
  • primary healthcare;
  • concessionaires and private health providers;
  • the National Institute of Public Health, the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food, the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Blood Transfusion Centre of Slovenia.

All the providers are currently preparing lists of staff available for redeployment between providers.

State Secretary Simon Zajc: Complying with the measures is our last chance to avoid a complete lockdown of the country

State Secretary Zajc emphasised that intensified inspections in recent weeks have contributed to more consistent compliance with the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule.

He said that the ordinance was, first and foremost, aimed at controlling socialising and was in no way intended to restrict economic activity. In adopting measures, Slovenia followed the lead of neighbouring countries (Austria and Italy), where measures have also been tightened.

The proposed changes concern the hospitality sector in particular. In hospitality establishments (bars and restaurants), customers can be served between 5:00 and 22:00, but customers must be seated; the delivery and collection of food and drinks after 22:00 is still permitted.

The maximum number of persons who can be in a bar/restaurant at the same time must be displayed at the entrance; the ordinance does not restrict bars and restaurants' premises, as they are restricted by the operating permit and depend on the layout of tables and chairs. The wearing of masks and complying with the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule are mandatory in hospitality establishments. Discotheques, night clubs, i.e. bars with live music, establishments for dancing and socialising are temporarily closed.

There have been additional changes to the restrictions on gatherings, said State Secretary Zajc, as Article 15 of the ordinance places a temporary prohibition on gatherings of people – i.e. public gatherings, public assemblies, public events. These are events that require prior registration and are temporarily prohibited. This applies to trade fairs and congresses, however, business events for a closed circle of participants, i.e. conferences, trainings, etc. are permitted. Staff congresses are also permitted, as they are of a closed type.

Grocery shops to remain an exception to the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule

Grocery shops and shops selling essential items outside shopping centres will continue to be an exception to the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule but will have to comply with the limitation on the number of customers in the shop of one customer per 10m2. This includes specialised shops selling pharmaceutical, medicinal and cosmetic products and toiletries – i.e. pharmacies, opticians and specialised shops selling medical devices. While the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule is not applicable to these, it will still apply, for instance, inside petrol stations, but not outside.

State Secretary Zajc called on the public to comply with the measures in full, saying that their purpose is to protect public health and save lives as well as relieving the burden on health workers and hospitals.

State Secretary Orehovec: Only full compliance with the measures can keep educational institutions open

State Secretary Orehovec from the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport said that only by following the recommendations of healthcare professionals consistently and complying with the provisions of the ordinance adopted on Friday can we help curb the epidemic.

The purpose of the measures adopted by the Government that are now in force is to ensure safety and health. Only consistent compliance can keep kindergartens, schools and faculties open. The message is clear, he said. We need to decide – do we want education to take place in schools or from home?

Schools and kindergartens are among the most vulnerable, and the Government must ensure that everyone involved – children and young people as well as employees – have a safe space to learn and work. When moving or remaining in any enclosed public space, the use of a protective surgical or FFP2 mask is mandatory as of 8 November.

Protective masks in enclosed spaces are mandatory for all pupils, students and employees. Masks are not mandatory for children up to and including six years of age, preschool teachers and preschool teacher assistants.

Masks are also not mandatory for persons with special needs who are unable to use a mask for objective reasons.

Wearing a mask is also not required in physical education classes and sports classes. All other exceptions are listed in the ordinance.

More frequent self-testing from 15 November onward

As of Monday, 15 November, self-testing in the educational system will be more frequent, namely three times per week at school. Primary school pupils and high school students will also need to self-test to participate in sport programmes and sport and recreational activities.

Self-testing for university students and participants in adult education programmes providing an officially recognised educational qualification will continue to be carried out in educational institutions and is mandatory. From 15 November onward, pharmacies will issue pupils and students up to 15 HAG self-test kits per month. In addition to their health insurance card, university students and adult education participants must also provide an enrolment certificate and identification.

The recovered/vaccinated/tested rule must be met by everyone working in education. Those who have been vaccinated or recovered do not need to self-test.

State Secretary Orehovec asked all education professionals, parents, children, young people and students to respect and implement the measures consistently, as that is the only way education can continue to be carried out where it should be: in educational institutions.