Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 19 May 2020

By , 19 May 2020, 07:03 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 19 May 2020 JL Flanner

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This summary is provided by the STA:

After opening borders, Slovenia opts for gradual approach

LJUBLJANA - Three days after opening Slovenia's borders to EU residents almost without exception, the government opted for a more gradual approach by determining that only citizens of EU and Schengen zone countries with which bilateral technical agreements are reached will be allowed to cross without restrictions. The government will yet determine the list of eligible countries and update it on an ongoing basis. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek discussed reopening the borders with the relevant Hungarian and Austrian ministers saying the goal was to reopen borders with the neighbour countries in early June. In a videoconference with EU counterparts, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Slovenia was ready to welcome tourists in the coming weeks.

Bulk of coronavirus restrictions lifted, schools reopen

LJUBLJANA - Children returned to schools and kindergartens as part of a major easing of quarantine restrictions in the country as Slovenia reopened kindergartens, primary schools for the first three grades and secondary schools for final-year students. Information from schools and kindergartens suggest the majority of eligible children and students returned and no major problems were reported. All shops were allowed to open and some shopping malls reported significant crowds. Bars and restaurants are allowed to serve their patrons indoor as well.

No new coronavirus infections, deaths

LJUBLJANA - No new coronavirus infections or deaths were recorded in Slovenia on Sunday after 479 tests were conducted. Twenty-five people were still in hospital with Covid-19, five of them in intensive care, government data show. The total number of infections in Slovenia so far remains at 1,466 and the death toll at 104. The number of people in hospitals dropped by one, while the number of patients in intensive care remains the same.

Trade unions, employers largely happy with short-time work scheme

LJUBLJANA - The Economic and Social Council's task force for labour market and social affairs largely harmonised measures from a draft third coronavirus stimulus package, most notably a planned scheme to subsidise a shorter work week. To prevent major job losses, safeguards were included under which the employers benefiting from the scheme could not lay off a larger number of workers for a month after they no longer get subsidies. The package is expected to be passed by the government on Tuesday.

Automotive industry says govt stimulus crucial for its survival

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian automotive industry said it was seeing its worst crisis yet due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Automotive Cluster of Slovenia urged a follow-up on the first two stimulus packages to save the sector, warning of a loss of jobs and bankruptcies unless aid is extended. CEO of the Kolektor group, Radovan Bolko, reported that the automotive sector had seen a 60% drop in production in April and a 50% in May. No recovery is expected in June yet.

Tourism industry reopening tentatively

LJUBLJANA - Tourism companies were largely able to resume business today, and travelling appears to be in demand again, although agritourism providers, campsites and beaches are still relatively empty. A path to recovery is expected to be long after a two-month lockdown, so the Slovenian Hospitality Chamber (TGZS) and the Association of Natural Spas urged the government to extend until the end of the year the measures designed to help tourism cope with the coronavirus epidemic - especially the subsidies for idled workers - or else 20,000 jobs could be lost by the end of 2020.

LMŠ proposes EUR 1.8bn consumption boost

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Marjan Šarec List presented a proposal for a EUR 1.8 billion stimulus package focused on boosting demand, an aspect it said had been almost completely ignored by the government. The list of measures includes a EUR 400 tourism voucher and a temporary universal monthly basic income of EUR 100. Former PM Marjan Šarec, accompanied by economist Jože P. Damijan, tore apart the government's first two stimulus packages, saying they had failed to come to life in practice.

Junior coalition SMC loses another MP

LJUBLJANA - The ruling coalition's majority in parliament has been reduced to 46 out of 90 seats after MP Gregor Židan defected from the Modern Centre Party (SMC) to join the opposition faction of Social Democrats (SD). Židan would not comment on the move, but the SMC expressed surprise, while adding that the latest defections would consolidate rather than weaken the deputy group. Židan's departure comes after Jani Möderndorfer left for the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) on Friday.

SDS firmly in lead, PM Janša slips in Vox Populi ranking

LJUBLJANA - The senior coalition Democratic Party (SDS) continues to lead the field in the latest Vox Populi poll for the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer. The SDS polled at 22.1% in the May survey, compared to 22.5% in April. The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) in second gained 2.4 percentage points to 12.2%. The government's performance was assessed positively by 47.3% of the respondents. However, Prime Minister Janez Janša slipped eight spots to 15th on the ranking of politicians.

Asylum requests processed again after being on hold during epidemic

LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry confirmed it had restarted processing all asylum protection requests after it had put on hold cases it did not deem urgent during the coronavirus epidemic. The ministry, which is now processing 10 to 15 requests daily, assessed that applications for international protection that are conducted orally cannot be counted as urgent. The ministry received 563 asylum requests from January to the end of April, which compares to 1,111 at this time last year.

Slovenia advocates modernisation of education after Covid-19

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The EU ministers in charge of education discussed the reopening of schools in a videoconference. Slovenia's Education Ministry State Secretary Damir Orehovec announced the drafting of long-term strategic guidelines regarding the accessibility of remote learning with an emphasis on safe, stimulative and inclusive educational environment. Slovenia will advocate a positive approach to mobility and support virtual mobility, which however cannot replace physical activity.

Ministry to change environmental impact assessment rules

LJUBLJANA - The Environment Ministry has made a step towards simplifying procedures for investors by proposing changes that would allow them to skip the environmental impact assessment in cases when previous analyses show that no major impact on the environment is expected. Since 2014, the Environment Agency has decided in some 2,440 requests for a preliminary analysis or more than 40 a month on average. Only in 3.7% of the cases an environmental impact assessment was required.

Theatres struggling but hoping to come out on top of epidemic

LJUBLJANA - The longer theatres across Slovenia stay closed due to coronavirus concerns, the bigger the economic fallout they face. Theatres are presenting this year's projects that have been cancelled due to the pandemic and preparing for reopening with rehearsals about to kick off in the coming weeks. Theatres called on the government to provide safety guidelines and reopening timelines in cooperation with health experts as well as present the relevant financial situation.

Slovenian football great Marko Elsner dies

LJUBLJANA - Marko Elsner, one of the greatest Slovenian football players of all time, died at the age of 60 after battling a severe illness for several years. One of his finest moments was winning an Olympic bronze medal with the Yugoslav team in 1984. He played for the Yugoslav national team in 1984-1988, earning 14 caps, and also for the Slovenian team after the nation gained independence, making two caps - against Cyprus in November 1992 and against Estonia in April 1993.

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