STA, 20 January 2021 - Nine of Slovenia's twelve statistical regions will enter the red tier of coronavirus restrictions on Monday after new cases and hospital figures dropped below thresholds set in the exit strategy, the government decided on Wednesday.
This means kindergartens and first three grades of primary school will reopen, with schools starting with an adjusted system that involves shorter school hours, smaller classes and strict adherence to restrictions.
All teachers who will return to teaching in person will be tested on Monday so that schools will actually open on Tuesday, Prime Minister Janez Janša said, adding that there was plenty of time to sort out the logistics.
The red tier also involves the reopening of museums, libraries and galleries in these regions as well as businesses including car mechanics, technical goods stores, sports stores, florists and book shops.
The details of which businesses will reopen will be hashed out by individual ministries tomorrow.
All regions bar Posavska, South-Eastern Slovenia and Goriška will enter the red tier after a steady improvement over the last ten days that brought the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital below 1,200 and the seven-day rolling average of new daily cases below 1,350.
Janša said it was important to follow the rules strictly and that inspections will be stepped up. If the positive trends continue, the remaining three regions will be able enter the red tier shortly, he said.
Calls for the reopening of schools and full opening of kindergartens have been getting louder in recent days since most kids have been schooled remotely for nearly three months and kindergartens were only open for the children of parents who could not work from home.
Businesses have likewise urged the government to relax measures, arguing that despite generous stimulus measures, many were running out of reserves and would have to shut down permanently if they are not allowed to open soon.
Janša however warned today that the situation remained serious. "We don't want to tighten the measures that we are relaxing now... Our joint efforts will determine whether the risk we are taking with the relaxation was prudent," he said.