04 Mar 2021, 09:00 AM

STA, 3 March 2021 - The National Assembly passed on Wednesday legislation designed to end fictitious registrations of residence, a widespread practice uncovered in recent months.

The amendments to the residence registration act will crack down on fictitious registrations at addresses that are not residential, or residential addresses where the size of the living quarters clearly precludes the registration of a large number of people.

This will be done in several ways, for example with the requirement that individuals may register residence only at the administrative unit where the address is located.

At each registration, the public official conducting the procedure will have to check the actual use of the building and the number of persons already registered at the address. There will be a minimum per person requirement in terms of square metres.

If the conditions for registration are not satisfied, officials will be able to reject such applications using a simplified procedure.

The legislation comes after a series of reports showed there were apartments and sometimes even commercial premises where dozens and sometimes over a hundred persons, mostly foreigners, were registered.

MPs also rejected a separate amendment, proposed by the opposition National Party (SNS) and adopted by the Home Policy Committee, that would have required individuals to provide information about their ethnicity and religious affiliation when reporting their residence.

The provision, criticised by the Office of the Information Commissioner as discriminatory, was overridden with amendments tabled by both the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) and New Slovenia (NSi), and the opposition Left.

03 Mar 2021, 22:18 PM

STA, 3 March 2021 - All secondary school students who have been learning remotely will return to in-person teaching on Monday, while primary school students in grades six to nine will have to wear masks at all time in class, the government decided as it conducted its weekly review of coronavirus restrictions.

The change for secondary school students comes after schools reopened in mid-February, but only final-year secondary students returned to classrooms. They were given priority because they have to prepare for school-leaving exams.

Secondary school students have been pushing for a return to classrooms and, despite the ban on gatherings of over 10 people, in early February they staged rallies to demand schools reopen.

In primary schools all students returned to class. They have to wear face masks while mixing in common areas but so far they have not had to wear masks in class. Students in grades from six to nine will now have to wear masks at all times.

The move was proposed by the Health Ministry's Covid-19 advisory group.

Teachers have to wear masks at all times and they must get tested for coronavirus once a week, a requirement that remains unchanged.

All other restrictions remain in place as well, including the 9pm-6am curfew, restrictions on gatherings, and the closure of bars and hospitality establishments.

With the exception of the coastal Obalno-Kraška region, Slovenia is currently in the orange tier of restrictions. New cases and hospital numbers had been falling steadily, but cases in particular have plateaued and even increased in some parts of the country.

03 Mar 2021, 12:30 PM

STA, 3 March 2021 - The national Seismology Office has presented a new seismic hazard map for Slovenia, taking into account the latest seismic and geo-tectonic data. The upgraded danger levels and risk assessment are based on the new findings of the past two decades.

The old seismic hazard map dates back to 2001 and the new one will step into force when the changes to the earthquake resistant construction legislation are passed.

Based on the new earthquake risk assessment, engineers will establish whether national building codes in line with the Eurocode 8 seismic hazard zoning standards need to be changed.

The new map shows peak ground acceleration as well as spectral acceleration to include all possible building frequencies.


Related: Old Photos - Ljubljana After the 1895 Earthquake

Seismic hazard levels are assessed for firm ground sites using earthquake sources probability assessment and taking into account the expected lifespan of average buildings.

The upgraded version was drawn up based on the latest data used for the new European seismic hazard map and specific regional circumstances. The list of earthquakes in the country and its vicinity has been brought up to date as well.

Active faults or ground breaks and their sources, defined by the Geological Survey of Slovenia, have been included in the map for the first time ever, meaning risk levels are now assessed not just on the basis of previous quakes but also on potential fault hotspots.

Areas with the highest earthquake hazard in Slovenia are the Posavje region in the east, the Novo Mesto area in the south-east, the capital Ljubljana and certain areas in the north-west and west of the country, particularly the Kobarid, Bovec and Idrija areas. On the other hand, the coast, the Maribor area and the north-east are safest.

If you’d like to keep up-to-date with the latest in seismic activity as it relates to Slovenia, there’s the government website (in Slovene) here, while an international site, in English and searchable by location, is here.

28 Feb 2021, 13:32 PM

STA, 28 February 2021 - Singer Ana Soklič will represent Slovenia at this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam with a song titled Amen. The song was premiered during the annual EMA music event on Saturday evening with Soklič singing it in English.

Since it was already known that Soklič will represent Slovenia this year as she did not get the chance to do that in 2020, the only thing left to announce was the song.

The latest Slovenian Eurovision entry will be first presented to the European audience during the contest's first semi-final on 18 May.

The inspiration for the song was life itself, said Soklič, who co-wrote music along with Žiga Pirnat and Bojan Simončič and lyrics with Pirnat and US lyricist Charlie Mason, whose credits include hits by Miley Cyrus as well as the 2014 Eurovision winning song Rise Like a Phoenix, performed by Conchita Wurst.

The production of Amen also included the RTV Slovenija Symphony Orchestra and an accompanying choir led by Dorian Holley, who was one of Michael Jackson's backing vocalists.

The vocals for the song were recorded in EastWest Studios in Hollywood with record producer Tony Maserati on hand. Maserati is famous for working with music celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, Jennifer Lopez, Whitney Houston and David Bowie, RTV Slovenija said.

He contributed to the development of the New York R&B and hip-hop scene in the 1990s and has been since cooperating on Grammy nominated and winning projects including with Black Eyed Peas and Beyoncé.

This year's EMA was held in a different format due to the Covid circumstances and the cancellation of last year's Eurovision contest. Instead of 12 songs competing for the honour to represent Slovenia, the show paid tribute to the most famous Slovenian and Yugoslavian Eurovision performances to mark the 60th anniversary of former Yugoslavia's first Eurovision appearance.

Slovenia was first represented at Eurovision as an independent country in 1993. Since then, the country has never failed to take part except for 1994 and 2000. The country's best result to date is 7th place, both in 1995 with Darja Švajger and in 2001 with Nuša Derenda.

26 Feb 2021, 15:05 PM

STA, 26 February 2021 - As gatherings are banned in the coastal Obalno-Kraška region as of Saturday and travel between this and other regions is restricted to work- and health-related reasons, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs explained that schools will not be closed in the region for the time being. There will also be no ban on travel between municipalities there.

Hojs told the press on Friday that the restrictions were being introduced due to the deteriorating epidemiological situation in the region, but travel would not be restricted to municipal borders.

"As the epidemiological situation in the municipalities of the Obalno-Kraška region is mostly comparable and because only one statistical region has entered the red [tier], we decided to confine movement within the region only," he said.

Several exceptions for the crossing of the regional border will be allowed, but these do not include visits to shops that are not available in the region.

"We know that a part of shops in the region have been closed and this is the exception that people could take advantage of, by saying that they allegedly need to travel to Ljubljana or elsewhere for that reason," the minister stressed.

Travel between the permanent and temporary residence will not be considered as an exception, either. "If you have a permanent residence in Ljubljana, you are in Ljubljana. This ... must not be exploited for going on a vacation or on a trip to the coast."

As for schools, Hojs said that they would remain open in the Obalno-Kraška region, meaning that primary school children and students of the final grade of secondary school would continue to be taught in-person on Monday.

"A decision has been made that school workers, epidemiologists and doctors come up by next Wednesday with a model under which in-person teaching could perhaps be continued, and even all secondary school students return to school, in the red regions."

Elsewhere in the country, gatherings remain restricted to up to ten persons and the 9pm-6am curfew remains in force. Hojs believes that the latter has had a positive impact on the epidemiological situation in Slovenia.

"From the position I hold at the moment, I may assess that the measure has contributed much to the situation starting to improve," he said, assessing that otherwise, the picture would have been much different, mostly because of private parties.

The government is currently taking decisions on restrictions on the regional basis, but if a majority of the regions return to the red tier, it will probably resort again to taking measures at the national level, Hojs added.

26 Feb 2021, 10:06 AM

STA, 25 February 2021 - Any gatherings are banned in the coastal Obalno-Kraška region from Saturday and travel between this region and others is restricted to work- and health-related reasons, the government decreed at Thursday's correspondence session. The current level of restrictions remains in force in the rest of the country.

The exemptions from the restriction on inter-regional movement in the case of the coastal region include commute to or from work, travel for business purposes, commercial farming and forestry work, or travel required to deal with direct threats to health, life or property.

Travel to or from the coastal region is also allowed to maintain contacts with one's children, to care for or help a person in need or a family member or to access health and spa services and pharmacies if needed.

People visiting foreign diplomatic or consular offices, or accessing emergency services or judicial and administrative services will also be exempt from the ban.

Other exemptions include those seeking services for people with special needs, people seeing to a property, people transiting the coastal region to cross the border or travel to their home region and people who need to perform urgent maintenance work on a grave.

The exceptions also apply to close family members or members of the same household when travelling together.


The region in question

Provided they heed precaution protocols, crossing the borders of the region is also permitted for people with a Covid-19 vaccination certificate, a negative coronavirus test, PCR or rapid, no older than 48 hours, or a document attesting they tested positive more than 21 days but less than six months ago, or a GP's confirmation that the person has recovered from Covid-19 earlier than half a year ago.

The test results are valid if they were produced in EU member states or Schengen countries or by third country organisations or individuals cleared by the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology and National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food.

In other regions, gatherings of up to ten persons remain permitted. The 9pm-6am curfew remains in force across the country.

24 Feb 2021, 12:10 PM

STA, 24 February 2021 - The National Public Health Institute (NIJZ) has announced that a total of 25,200 doses of the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines for Covid-19 are expected in Slovenia on Thursday.

More than 232,000 doses are expected to be delivered in March - 99,450 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 30,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 102,885 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the NIJZ told the STA on Wednesday.

This week, Pfizer already delivered 22,230 doses, and a slightly larger shipment of Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccine is expected tomorrow.

Moderna is expected to deliver 8,400 doses, half of which is to be used for second shots, while AstraZeneca is to deliver 16,800 shots, all of which will go for first shots, the NIJZ said.

As for March, Pfizer is expected to deliver shipments of almost 20,000 doses every Monday. AstraZeneca is to deliver its vaccine in five shipments, the first coming on 4 March, when 3,700 doses are expected.

All the latest data on Slovenia and coronavirus

22 Feb 2021, 12:54 PM

STA, 22 February 2021 - Slovenia logged 247 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, three more than the same day a week ago, as eight patients with Covid-19 died. The 7-day average of new cases stayed level at 744, fresh government figures show.

The latest cases were confirmed from 1,428 PCR tests, for a positivity rate of 17.3%. In addition, 8,551 rapid antigen tests were also performed.

The number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 rose by 18 to 584 after 39 patients were admitted and 13 discharged yesterday. The number of patients in intensive care units rose by two to 104.

For a further easing of coronavirus restrictions, hospitalisations would have to fall below 500 and the 7-day average of new confirmed cases below 600.

The cumulative 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents was at 522 and the 7-day incidence at 248 on Sunday, show data from the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), released by the government.

Region-wise, the highest incidence remains in the south-western region of Obalno-Kraška, the 14-day figure being at 744 and the 7-day at 400 per 100,000 residents.

Commenting on the situation at the daily press briefing, Health Ministry State Secretary Alenka Forte noted that tourism destinations and shopping centres were very busy at the first weekend since travel across the country was allowed.

She appealed to the public to pick the destinations of their trips wisely and opt for less busy spots and not to become "too relaxed" about precautionary measures.

Forte was "very happy" about the falling hospitalisations and deaths, setting out an exit strategy for hospitals.

"We're currently in the first phase of the exit strategy when hospitalisations fall under 700. Covid bed capacities of all hospitals are reduced to 10% of all bed capacities, except for the Golnik hospital, where the percentage is 15%," she said.

In addition Topolšica and Sežana hospitals are no longer Covid hospitals and have resumed their regular services.

In the second phase, when country-wide Covid-19 hospitalisations fall below 500, the hospitals in Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec, Trbovlje, Brežice and Izola will no longer be Covid hospitals and will resume their regular programme and the Jesenice hospital will close its Covid unit due to renovation.

In the third phase, as Covid hospitalisations fall below 250, only UKC Ljubljana and UKC Maribor, Golnik and the hospitals in Celje, Novo Mesto and Nova Gorica will continue as Covid hospitals.

Only the two medical centres and Golnik clinic will continue to treat Covid patients when their number falls below 100 and if the number is even lower, Golnik will no longer have intensive care beds for Covid patients.

Emergency wards in all hospitals will keep so-called "grey zones" to isolate patients suspected to be infected with coronavirus. If they test positive, the patients will be relocated following the exit strategy.

Slovenia has so far reported 185,013 coronavirus cases, with an estimated 11,014 active infections, data from the NIJZ show.

According to tracker site, a total of 3,784 Covid-19 patients have died.

More than 94,300 people received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine and nearly 50,000 received both jabs by Sunday.

The latest data on coronavirus and Slovenia

18 Feb 2021, 13:41 PM

STA, 18 February 2021 - A total of 872 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Wednesday as the rolling 7-day average of new cases dropped to 768, data released by the government show. A further ten patients with Covid-19 died.

The latest case count marks a decline of 36% from Wednesday a week ago. The cases were confirmed in 4,271 PCR tests for a positivity rate of 20.4%. The count includes retested positives suggested by 24,005 rapid antigen tests.

Hospitalisations kept declining further, dropping by 29 to 619 as 61 patients were discharged and 42 were newly admitted. The number of patients in intensive care units fell by ten to 116.

To move from orange to yellow tier of coronavirus restrictions under the government plan, hospitalisations would have to fall below 500 and the 7-day average of new confirmed cases below 600.

Slovenia has so far reported 182,484 coronavirus cases with an estimated 11,234 still active, data from the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) shows.

According to tracker site, a total of 3,755 Covid-19 patients have died.

The cumulative 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents is 532 and the 7-day incidence is 256, according to NIJZ. The highest incidence is in the Obalno-Kraška region, at 710 and 397, respectively.

Commenting on the situation at the daily press briefing, Bojana Beović, the government's chief Covid-19 adviser, noted that the improving epidemiological situation was the product of measures that were in force ten to 14 days ago.

The figures do not reflect the recent easing of restrictions, she said, warning that any premature or too extensive relaxation could trigger a third wave, even without an outbreak of the more virulent variants of the virus.

"All the paths are still open, the epidemic is not over yet," said the infectious diseases expert, who will take over as the head of the Medical Chamber following today's confirmation and will thus no longer head the Covid-19 advisory group.

She is particularly concerned about the South African variant, which she said was in fact a new disease. Those who have recovered from coronavirus are not immunised against this variant and likewise are the Covid-19 vaccines so far approved by the EU not effective against it.

On a positive note, she said sample analyses so far indicated the country had managed to control the UK variant. She also believes that immunity acquired through infection has a major role in curbing the epidemic, along with precautionary measures.

Get the latest data on Slovenia and coronavirus

15 Feb 2021, 16:24 PM

STA, 15 February 2021 - All primary school students and final-year secondary school students from western and central Slovenia returned to school after over four months on Monday. Headteachers reported no major difficulties in organising classes. Most students are happy to be back. Schools in the eastern part of the country closed for a week-long holiday.

Quite a few adjustments were needed to avoid student contacts outside their classroom bubbles, so timetables had to be changed on very short notice, said Irena Kodele Krašna, the headteacher of the Danilo Lokar primary school in Adjovščina.

Headteacher of the Fran Erjavec school in Nova Gorica Lara Brun told the STA their transition from distance to in-person learning would be soft and in line with all health recommendations.

"I told the staff to have sympathy to their students, as returning to school is again a big change for them. So this week they should mostly repeat what they've been learning ... but foremost create an encouraging learning environment," she said.

Alenka Krapež, head teacher of the Gimnazija Vič high school, said their students and teachers were "happy, smiling and content". The school had no problems with coronavirus testing or organising of classes, noting that the same system had been used as last September, meaning each class being in their own classroom, distance keeping, use of face masks and airing of rooms.

The Gimnazija Franceta Prešerna Kranj secondary school is using a hybrid model of education, combining distance learning and classroom work. The system had been introduced because of frequent absences of many students who are musicians or athletes.

Head teacher Mirjam Bizjak told the STA they had some problems organising work but they were being tackled. She said gym classes for example would be held outdoors as much as possible.

Practical lessons are now also allowed for all students, so students of the Radovljica School of Hospitality and Tourism have lessons for one or two days a week at school and the rest from home, while the final grades have no more distance learning.

Head teacher Ivan Damjan Mašič said the biggest gap for students was not having had practical classes so they would try to make up for some of that first.

He said the school was big enough to have isolated bubbles and that nobody had any objections to masks. "Students are happy to be back at school. You can tell they missed socialising the most."

This was echoed by Andreja Ahčin, headteacher of the Biotechnical Centre Naklo. "The kind of combined lessons that we have now is quite a challenge for the teachers but we are happy that at least part of the students could return to school."

The importance of having students return to school and among friends was also stressed by the head of the DOS organisation of secondary school students, Maja Kalin. She said a survey conducted among secondary school students had shown 54% of them wanting to return to schools for the higher quality of education.

Quite a few of them had reservations, mainly concerns that they would put their family members in danger. Some also fear that taking a lot of tests in a short period of time to make up for the backlog would be stressful.

Dorms are also open again today. The head of the Kranj dorm for secondary school and university students, Judita Nahtigal, said their dorm had not been completely empty in the past months because of foreign students. But now that schools reopened, about a fifth of residents have returned.

15 Feb 2021, 14:16 PM

STA, 15 February 2021 - The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) expects new batches of Covid-19 vaccines this week, consisting of 21,060 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and 16,800 of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The national vaccination strategy has been updated with regard to setting the priority groups, the NIJZ told the STA.

The priority groups for vaccination are medical staff, employees and residents of care homes and day centres for people with disabilities, people aged over 80, those over 75 and then those over 70 and particularly vulnerable patients with chronic disease regardless of their age.

After that the vaccine will be available for those over 65 and chronic patients older than 60, followed by employees in key services and the rest of the population, suggests the strategy obtained by the STA.

The list of particularly vulnerable chronic patients includes people with organ transplants, cancer, severe lung diseases, rare diseases that increase the risk of infection, people treated with immunosuppressives, those with conditions that increase the risk of infection, adults with Down syndrome, adults on dialysis and those with level five chronic kidney disease.

The NIJZ advisory body has recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged under 65 but also for the vaccination of bedridden persons at their homes, as unlike the mRNA vaccines it is more stable and thus easier to transport.

Currently, three Covid-19 vaccines are registered for use in Slovenia but given that their quantities are very limited, people cannot choose which one their will be inoculated with.

The mRNK vaccines of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are currently used for the vaccination of medical staff older than 65, and for people over 80. After that citizens older then 75 will be vaccinated with them and then those over 70 and particularly vulnerable chronic patients regardless of their age, and then those over 65.

The AstraZeneca vaccine will first be administered to health staff aged between 18 and 64, and employees and residents of care homes and day centres for people or youth with disabilities, and employees at prisons and other similar institutions of the same age.

After that, employees and students of special schools will receive the vaccine, along with particularly vulnerable chronic patients aged 18-64 and possibly also older with or without chronic disease if they express the desire to be vaccinated as soon as possible and if this is line with their doctor's orders.

After that patients aged 18-64 will be vaccinated, healthy persons aged 60-65, emergency services and the rest of the population, the strategy says.

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