Most Lockdown Restrictions Extended, Some Businesses Reopen, Schools Remain Closed

By , 05 Nov 2020, 18:33 PM Lifestyle
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STA, 5 November 2020 - The government has extended a ban on movement between municipalities and a ban on gatherings of more than six people for another week, while it has allowed some more services and businesses to reopen.

The businesses that are being allowed to reopen from Friday include pedicure services, and specialised shops selling baby, childcare and mother care items, technical goods, cars, bicycles, furniture, photographic and photocopying services, watch and jewellery shops.

Presenting the changes to the relevant decree, which were adopted at the government correspondence session today, Economy Ministry State Secretary Ajda Cuderman said restrictions were being eased on activities "where there's a very small possibility of transmission of infection".

For pedicure she said it was "of exceptional importance for preventive care of the many older people, and to prevent any serious conditions with the elderly, who have been warning of that".

The establishments that are being opened will need to observe additional safety measures, including limiting customers to one per 30 square metres, as opposed to 20 square metres per customer so far.

In shopping centres, entrances and exits for customers will have to be separated, with hand sanitisers at both ends and regular airing required, among other things.

Cuderman indicated that other services such as beauty shops and ophthalmologists would be allowed to reopen when the coronavirus situation has improved.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the ban on restriction to movement and gatherings was being extended for another week with small technical amendments to the decree.

He said that Serbia was additionally added to the list of Covid-19 unsafe red countries for which quarantine applies, from Monday, but said that the government advised against all non-essential travel outside the country anyway.

He said the same restrictions to travel across the border as for Slovenian citizens also apply to foreigners residing in Slovenia who have relatives in other countries of the former Yugoslavia.

"As you arrive on the border and you don't produce [proof of] one of the reasons for the crossing of border municipalities, you will be fined," said Hojs, referring to foreign residents.

Additionally, oversight of compliance with restrictions to movement can now also be exercised by city traffic wardens, aside police officers and health inspectors.

The government has also added new sports to the list of those where competition can resume for top athletes, including water polo and futsal.

This is the second time that the government has extended top-tier lockdown restrictions since imposing the highest level of restrictions on 24 October to cut coronavirus cases.

Only stores selling essential items or services remain open, including grocery shops ans supermarkets, produce markets, pharmacies, shops selling medical and orthopaedic equipment, farming and gardening stores, florists, DIY shops, car and bicycle repair shops, bank, postal and insurance offices, newsagents, pet food stores.

Delivery services are also allowed and restaurants can offer takeaway. A week ago, the government also allowed libraries and repair services to reopen.

The government will review the restrictions again in a week.

Schools to Continue Distance Learning

STA, 5 November 2020 - After two weeks of holidays, primary school pupils will not return to schools on Monday due to the coronavirus situation in Slovenia, as distance learning will be introduced once again. Secondary schools have already launched remote teaching at the beginning of this week.

Kindergartens remain closed as well, but childcare will continue to be available to parents who work in vital services.

Education Minister Simona Kustec said that the government would review the decision in a week, either extending or ending the measure.

Universities and other higher education institutions also remain in remote schooling mode. Moreover, schools for children and adults with special needs will remain closed as well.

The latter, especially, can be demanding for students, parents and teachers, with the minister saying a special memo had been sent to special needs teachers, adding it was expected the teachers did their best for special needs education to be as normal as possible.

When asked whether the government had considered reopening schools that have few or no coronavirus cases, Kustec said that the Slovenian Constitution stipulates that all students get the same access to education, meaning that school must be the same for everybody.

The government has instructed schools and local communities to organise free meals for underprivileged children, which will be covered by the state budget.

Municipalities and schools are to invite parents and children to apply for meals, which they will be able to pick up at their school. Lunch deliveries are also to be organised for children who cannot pick up their meals.

The Association of Towns and Municipalities (SOS) has meanwhile said that meals should be organised by the state and primary schools, adding that municipalities can assist the schools if required.

The association noted that under the law, the state provides funds for education programme, while local communities are obligated to maintain and invest in infrastructure. In line with this, it is also the state's obligation to provide warm meals to pupils in emergency situations.

The Ljubljana municipality also responded by saying that it cannot take on this obligation. Organising meals in this way, in Ljubljana this would amount to 5,000-6,000 a day, is impossible and irrational, the city said. It proposed that children be allowed to come to school to eat, adding also it would be even better if schools reopen completely.

The Education Ministry forwarded to the STA on Tuesday numbers showing the extent of coronavirus infections in schools and kindergartens.

In kindergartens, 524 members or 3.74% of all staff have contracted the coronavirus since the beginning of the school year in September. Additional 637 staff (4.55%) have been quarantined.

In primary schools, the number of reached 1,207 (4.84% of staff), with additional 1,261 people (some 5%) in quarantine, while in secondary schools, it reached 110 (1.18%), with another 1,261 in quarantine (just over 5%).

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