News

28 May 2020, 18:43 PM

All our stories on coronavirus are here, while those covering covid-19 and Croatia are here. We'll have an update at the end of the day, and if you want newsflashes then we'll post those on Facebook

Two new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, no new deaths

Major easing of restrictions announced for Monday

Primary schools to fully reopen next week

Slovenia and Hungary open border for their citizens

Masks no longer mandatory, still recommended

Two new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, no new deaths

STA, 28 May 2020 - After conducting 631 coronavirus tests, two new coronavirus infections were confirmed in Slovenia on Wednesday in what was a second day of the daily case count exceeding one after two weeks of zero or one infections per day. No new Covid-19 fatalities were reported, show the latest official data.

The total of confirmed infections has thus risen to 1,473. The national death toll has remained at 108.

Seven Covid-19 patients remain in hospital care, including two in intensive care. One person was released from hospital on Wednesday.

The UKC Ljubljana hospital said today that one of the infected persons was an employee of the Ljubljana Clinic for infectious diseases.

As a result, some departments in the clinic will closed in the coming days, but there will be no disturbances in the unit for Covid-19 patients or the paediatric unit.

The person was tested after getting fever, and has been on sick leave since Wednesday.

So far, 77,210 coronavirus tests have been performed in the country.

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Major easing of restrictions announced for Monday

STA, 28 May 2020 - Major easing of restrictions has been announced for Monday as all tourism facilities will be allowed to reopen, and gatherings of up to 200 people will be allowed again. Gyms and spas will reopen as well, government spokesman Jelko Kacin told the press on Thursday.

 The changes to the government decree on the movement of people in public areas will enter into force on 1 June.

After reopening tourist accommodation with up to 30 rooms on 18 May, all hotels regardless of their size as well as spas, health centres, gyms and pools will be able to reopen next month.

Only night clubs and discotheques remain closed. Shops too will remain closed on Sundays and holidays, Kacin said.

The government said in a press release that the exceptions were filling stations and pharmacies, adding that the minimum working hours of food shops would remain.

The general restrictions for shops were lifted on 18 May. Bars and restaurants started serving patrons indoors again last week as well.

Employees are still advised to minimise contact with shoppers and patrons and it is the "responsibility of employers to provide employees with protective equipment and make sure guidelines are followed," the government added.

National Public Health Institute (NIJZ) director Milan Krek said that, as regards gatherings of up to 200 people, that this did not come without certain conditions, including the safety measures to prevent the spread of infection.

As the latest easing of restrictions concern tourism facilities, it has become pertinent how and when citizens will be able to make use of tourism vouchers which are part of the legislation currently discussed in parliament.

Kacin said that instructions for the use of vouchers were being prepared and that more about that would be presented by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek on Friday.

Krek added that wearing of face masks was no longer obligatory, but a recommendation for protecting oneself from getting infected and preventing possible spreading of the infection.

"No one will run after you, no one will threaten you, or punish you. The virus will do this if you catch it," he said when answering a question about wearing of face masks in enclosed spaces.

Krek advised people to wear face masks in places where it is not possible to maintain social distancing, regardless of whether this is requested or not, be it in a shop, bus or an institution.

Face masks are mandatory for persons who are infected with coronavirus and those who take care of them, he added.

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Primary schools to fully reopen next week

STA, 28 May 2020 - Fourth and fifth graders will return to school on Monday, the first day when the Covid-19 epidemic will no longer be in place. Those in grades six, seven and eight will return on Wednesday, Education Minister Simona Kustec told the press on Thursday.

This represents a full reopening of primary schools after children in the first three grades returned to classrooms on 18 May and those in ninth grade this week.

Also as of 1 June, children from the first three years will no longer be split into smaller groups of up to 15 children per classroom, going normally back to their original classrooms with their original classmates, the minister said.

The same relaxation will apply to kindergartens as of Monday.

Distance learning will meanwhile continue for secondary school students, expect for those in their final year, who returned to classrooms on 18 May to prepare for the school-leaving matura exam.

This is because there are still some restrictions applying to secondary school dormitories, explained Kustec.

Social distancing of 1.5 meters will still have to be observed as well as all other precautionary and hygienic measures.

Children will not be required to wear masks, but teachers are advised to wear them.

Despite the return to classrooms, the instruction to teachers that children should get only one grade before the end of the school year remains in place.

National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) director Milan Krek said that despite the relaxation of public life, infection risks remain, so caution is needed.

In case of any respiratory infection, school children and teachers are advised to stay at home, he stressed, noting that if the virus appears in a school, it would have to be closed.

Schools closed on 16 March when the country went into lockdown four days after the epidemic was formally declared.

The Association of Head Teachers responded to the news by saying that the government had not given schools enough time to prepare, and that there would be problems in organising travel, meals and after-school activities.

"We are getting all these guidelines and circular letters too late. This one we received on Thursday and we are supposed to implement it on Monday," the association's head Gregor Pečan told the STA.

Pečan thinks that this shows a "great deal of disrespect for students and their parents, not to mention school employees and managers", as "people, health and lives are in play", so it is indecent to handle things this way.

Branimir Štrukelj of the SVIZ teachers' union was also critical, saying that teachers had not been consulted, which is a message from the government that they "do not have the right to participate in the creation of education policy."

He added that the responsibility of a potential spread of coronavirus due to this decision would have to be taken by those who had taken it, and not by head teachers and teachers.

Schools closed on 16 March when the country went into lockdown four days after the epidemic was formally declared.

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Slovenia and Hungary open border for their citizens

STA, 28 May 2020 - Slovenia and Hungary have agreed to lift restrictions on the crossing of state border for the citizens of both countries as of Thursday based on a favourable epidemiological situation in both countries and following successful diplomatic coordination, the Foreign Ministry said.

The announcement came after talks between the Slovenian and Hungarian foreign ministers, Anže Logar and Peter Szijjarto, who met at the Dolga Vas checkpoint.

The talks were dedicated to the current rules on the border, the coronavirus epidemic and the situation of ethnic minorities on both sides of the border.

The ministers assessed that Slovenia and Hungary are among the EU countries which have been the most successful in dealing with Covid-19, and called for the reopening of borders in the region as soon as possible.

Logar said the agreement reached today was an important diplomatic achievement. He said he was also happy with the conclusions of the talks on the issues of the Slovenian minority in Hungary and the Hungarian minority in Slovenia.

Szijjarto said the pandemic had shown how closely countries in central Europe were connected, especially neighbouring countries. Slovenia and Hungary reaffirmed their friendship, partnership and cooperation during this difficult times, he added.

According to Logar, the talks on the new border regime with neighbouring countries with a similar epidemiological situation were based on partnership and opinions of the National Institute for Public Health on which countries are safe.

He is confident that Slovenia will continue these talks in the coming days. If such a deal is reached with Austria, the borders with the country will open before 15 June.

Italy does not meet the epidemiological standards yet, and Croatia is working to create a regime that will make travelling easier for Slovenians who have real estate there or for other purposes, Logar said.

The ministers also discussed activities at the EU level, including on the current Commission's proposal for the multi-year financial framework, which includes setting up a recovery and resilience facility.

Logar argued for a rapid and ambitious agreement on the multi-year framework to fight off the consequences of the pandemic. Cohesion policy remains a priority for Slovenia, he stressed.

Szijjarto said that a new post-pandemic world order was being formed in which new dilemmas would cause new conflicts. "The Slovenian and Hungarian governments support each other; we will advocate the same views and help each other, be it with regard to illegal migration, preservation of cohesion funds, or the EU enlargement."

The ministers also reviewed progress in cross-border transport and energy projects, especially the power line between Cirkovce and Heviz, and the gas pipeline between Kidričevo and Nagykanizsa.

Logar will meet representatives of the Slovenian minority in Szentgotthárd today.

Hungary closed the border with Slovenia because of coronavirus in early March, and erected checkpoints through which limited goods transport was allowed into the country.

As of today all restrictions are lifted on the four existing border checkpoints: Hodoš-Bajansenye, Dolga vas-Redics, Pince (motorway)-Torniyszentmiklos (Orszagut) and Pince (local road)-Torniyszentmiklos (Helyi ut). The remaining points of crossing are to open on Tuesday.

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Masks no longer mandatory, still recommended

STA, 28 May 2020 - Wearing of face masks in closed public spaces is no longer mandatory in Slovenia, but it is still recommended according to guidelines by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

"The wearing of face masks is not an obligation, it is a recommendation designed to protect ourselves ... and to prevent transmission," NIJZ director Milan Krek told the press on Thursday.

In fact, masks have not been obligatory since 18 May, when a new government decree that allowed the gathering of up to 50 people in public entered into effect.

The decree no longer included the provision that made face masks mandatory, it is just that nobody appears to have noticed that the obligation was extinguished since the decree overrode a previous decree that made masks mandatory.

Instead, the new decree determines only that social distancing rules must be observed.

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28 May 2020, 14:22 PM

STA, 27 May 2020 - Slovenia will be eligible to receive EUR 5.071 billion from the EU's coronavirus recovery plan, shows an European Commission document, which has not yet been formally released. It will be able to receive EUR 2.579 billion in grants and EUR 2.492 billion in loans.

Slovenia will be able to draw the EUR 2.579 billion in grants from various instruments, not just the new recovery and resilience fund.

These include the new cohesion instrument ReactEU and the strengthened Just Transition Fund and the Regional Development Fund.

To receive the money from the recovery and resilience fund, a member state will have to draft a reform and investment plan setting out the expenditure, which will have to be approved at EU level.

The Commission will present the instruments in detail on Thursday, when the official breakdown by member state will also be published.

The Commission proposes a EUR 750 billion fund to help the economies of member states cope with the post-coronavirus reality, Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni tweeted on Wednesday.

EUR 500 billion will be earmarked for grants and EUR 250 billion for loans, but details are yet to be presented.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is presenting it to the European Parliament, which will then further discuss it.

The prime minister's office said that the proposal was a "step in the right direction" and that Slovenia would take a clear position on it after making a thorough analysis, supported with adequate calculations.

The office added that "Slovenia has always advocated an ambitious and future-oriented EU multi-year budget" and that the proposals presented by Von der Leyen would certainly be helpful in tackling the economic impact of the pandemic.

"By doing so, the European Union will contribute to the extensive efforts of member states for kick-starting the economy while also making a decisive step towards strengthening the internal EU market."

The office added that, when it came to the European Commission's proposal, Slovenia would be "particularly attentive to its priority areas such as cohesion policy."

Slovenian MEPs meanwhile said that Slovenia's success in drawing from the recovery and resilience fund would depend on the country's authorities, while assessing the entire proposal as a sign that there is still solidarity in the EU.

The European People's Party (EPP) MEPs believe that the EUR 5.1 billion for Slovenia is an excellent result and opportunity, and that the Slovenian government is able to draw such an amount in what is a demanding and responsible job.

Tanja Fajon and Milan Brglez (S&D/SD) said that Slovenia would need a good reform and investment plan and noted that the phasing of the funds would be conditional on priorities such as environment, digitalisation and resilience.

Klemen Grošelj (Renew/LMŠ) assessed that this is an opportunity for Slovenia to get very favourable funds for tackling the coronavirus crisis. They can significantly contribute to stabilisation and mitigation of consequences, he added.

28 May 2020, 11:35 AM

Ten days ago, on Monday 18 May, the British International School of Ljubljana (BISL) reopened its doors, moving back to the physical classroom from online learning, and now, ahead of the state schools in Slovenia – which remain on limited schedules – is already offering classes to all of its pupils.

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A teacher and students

The staggered approach to reopening saw the Early Years and Years 1 and 10 to 13 return first, with priority thus given to those children who are still learning what school is all about, and older pupils. Years 2, 3 and 9 returned to the premises of the BISL a few days later, with online lessons continuing for others. And this week, starting Monday 25 May, the remaining pupils returned to see their friends and teachers.

Of course, things are not the same as before the lockdown, and safety is the goal around which everything is organised. Classes have thus been split into smaller groups – no more than 10 for the youngest, and no more than 15 for others – and there’s liberal use of sanitisers and masks (more on those below).

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In adopting new measures the BISL isn’t acting alone, as its membership of the Orbital Education Group means that the school has been able to share the experiences and best practices of others around the world. A key part of the new system is the modelling of appropriate behaviours by teachers, staff and parents, with regard to hand and cough hygiene, the use of masks and distancing. The latter includes more space between desks, no assemblies, and the modification of group activities. Fortunately the return to school has coincided with fine weather, making outdoor learning possible.

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With regard to masks, the school is currently operating on the following regime, although both teachers and students are allowed to wear masks at all times if they prefer, and the full details of the reopening guidance can be found here

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Teachers also ensure that classroom doors will be kept open and classrooms are well ventilated regularly. Before being permitted back to school the parents of each pupil had to sign a form declaring their child had not shown any symptoms of covid-19 in the previous 14 days, not been in contact with such a person, and that they would agree to keep their child from school these symptoms appear.

How have the first days back at school been?

Paul Walton, the principal of BISL, notes that the mood on the first day was delightful, being able to see friends and colleagues once again, along with a feeling of strangeness at the new situation. To ease the community back, care was thus taken to ensure the social aspects of school and the benefits they provide were emphasised, since these were what everyone had been missing most.

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Paul Walton and his Senior Leadership Team

And what advice does Mr Walton offer to other schools? He gives the following five tips:

  1. Student wellbeing and safety should come first in every decision.
  2. Include staff in the consultation process.
  3. Encourage fun and exciting learning opportunities for all students with an enhanced timetable of lessons and blended learning.
  4. Communicate out early the plan to return and amend it as and when needed, including updates after the reopening.
  5. Create a solid checking process to ensure that everything you said you will do has been done.

If you’d like to learn more about how the British International School of Ljubljana is handling the return to work, or how to enrol your child for the next academic year, then visit the website here.

28 May 2020, 09:31 AM

As things begin to open up again, and international travel becomes a possibility once more, a number of airline have announced their plans to restart services connecting Ljubljana with other European cities. As reported on Ex-Yu Aviation, your best choice for regional news from the skies, the latest details are as follows.

Air Serbia will be the first to resume services, on 29 May, followed by Wizz Air, connecting Charleroi (Belgium) and Ljubljana three times a week from 16 June. Next is Air France, restarting operations on 24 June with two flights a week, while Brussels Airlines will offer its services on a three times a week basis from 29 June on.

EasyJet, Ljubljana’s busiest carrier, is planning to restart flights from London Gatwick and Stansted on July 1, although its service to and from Berlin is unlikely to begin before 25 October. British Airways’ flights from London Heathrow are scheduled to restart on 1 July.

Lufthansa will announce more details today or tomorrow, although no flights are expected until 15 June at the earliest.

Meanwhile, travellers to and from Finland will have to wait until 28 March 2021 for direct flights connecting Helsinki and Ljubljana from Finnair.

28 May 2020, 04:03 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA:

Officials say elderly received appropriate care during epidemic

LJUBLJANA - Government officials expressed regret over doubts that were being expressed in the public lately regarding the treatment of the elderly in the face of the epidemic. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar called such criticism "completely unjustified" and "very unfair to medical staff". The statements come in response to criticism that many elderly with Covid-19 were not hospitalised during the epidemic, which would prevent the spread of the disease in the most vulnerable population. Gantar noted that only 1.7% of the 18,800 residents of Slovenian care homes had gotten infected, which was an "excellent result".

Slovenia eligible for EUR 5.1 billion under EU recovery plan

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia will be eligible to receive EUR 5.071 billion from the EU's coronavirus recovery plan, according to European Commission documents. It will be able to receive EUR 2.579 billion in grants and EUR 2.492 billion in loans. Slovenia will be able to draw the EUR 2.579 billion in grants from various instruments, not just the new recovery and resilience fund. To receive the money from the recovery and resilience fund, a member state will have to draft a reform and investment plan. PM Janez Janša said the plan was a step in the right direction.

Environmental protection act changed to limit involvement of NGOs

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a set of changes, which include provisions limiting the involvement of NGOs in administrative and court proceedings. The final version, adopted in a 50:30 vote, softens the initially proposed restrictions somewhat, but environmentalists continue to cry foul. In line with the new conditions, public interest status will be recognised only for groups with at least 50 members, at least EUR 10,000 of assets, at least two fully employed persons who have tertiary education level degrees and two years of experience in environmental protection.

Optimistic trend in employment recorded in May

LJUBLJANA - The Employment Service has recorded a significant drop in the number of persons who were registered as unemployed in May in comparison with April, saying that the trend inspires a certain degree of optimism regarding employment as the coronavirus epidemic is officially ending. Between 1 and 26 May, a total of 7,089 persons were registered as jobless, which is less than half of the number for April (14,419). The national employment agency said the fact that 5,384 people were struck out of the unemployment records in May, of whom 4,462 had found a job, was also encouraging.

Počivalšek expects border with Croatia to fully open for tourists on Monday

MURSKO SREDIŠĆE, Croatia - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said, after meeting his Croatian counterpart Darko Horvat, that he expected the border with Croatia to be fully opened for tourists on 1 June. The pair meanwhile highlighted the wish for cooperation and a prompt return of the two countries' economies to pre-crisis tracks. They also praised the record trade recorded between the two countries last year and hailed neighbourly cooperation.

Hojs tells Maltese minister Slovenia's migrant capacities full

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs held a phone conversation Tuesday with his Maltese counterpart Byron Camilleri focusing on migrations. Camilleri urged Slovenia to help with the relocation of migrants rescued at sea, but Hojs said Slovenia's capacities were full and it could not do that at present, the Interior Ministry said. Hojs described the migrant situation in Slovenia and said there was a renewed increase in the number of illegal crossings of the border under way after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

Foreign Ministry not commenting on new Trieste remembrance day

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry would not comment on a new remembrance day declared by the Trieste city council. The ministry "does not comment on history-related dates as new holidays," it said. The Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association (SKGZ), one of the central organisations of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Italy, said the newly declared Trieste holiday was divisive and was "reviving old conflicts". The ministry said that Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio will visit Ljubljana on 6 June for talks on all topical issues.

Logar talks Slovenia's Adriatic-Ionian Initiative presidency

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar took part in a videoconference of the foreign ministers of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative and of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, presenting the priorities of Slovenia's chairmanship of both platforms, which the country is to assume on 1 June. He said Slovenia would strive for the "recovery from Covid-19 to also be a green recovery", the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

Tonin talks cooperation, EU presidency with German counterpart

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin spoke with his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer via videolink to express satisfaction with the countries' cooperation in defence and look for opportunities to strengthen it further. The ministers also talked about the countries' upcoming EU presidencies and confirmed the success of the joint participation in international operations and missions and in joint exercises and training, primarily as part of the leading country concept under Germany's leadership.

Two new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, no Covid-19 fatality

LJUBLJANA - A total of 809 tests for coronavirus were conducted in Slovenia on Tuesday, with two tests coming back positive which is the highest daily case count after two weeks of zero or one infections per day. No Covid-19 deaths were recorded, with the national death toll remaining at 108, show the latest government data. So far, 1,471 coronavirus infections have been recorded in Slovenia and 76,579 tests have been performed.

MPs only confirm Klemen Podobnik as candidate for EU General Court judge

LJUBLJANA - Parliament confirmed Klemen Podobnik as the candidate for one of two Slovenian judges at the EU's General Court in Luxembourg. The remaining two nominees, Jure Vidmar and Nina Savin Bossiere, failed to secure the absolute majority required, which means the call for applications for the second spot will have to be repeated. Podobnik, a professor of commercial and EU law at the Ljubljana Faculty of Law and a visiting professor at a school of law in Latvia, now still faces Committee 255, the vetting body in Brussels.

Motion to close shops Sundays okayed at first reading, reservations voiced

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly okayed at first reading the opposition Left's proposal to keep stores closed Sundays also after the end of the epidemic, but calls were heard for social dialogue, meaning coordination among social partners is expected to follow. The motion, announced ahead of Labour Day by the Left together with the Trade Union of Shop Assistants, was rendered fit for further reading in a 65:12 vote.

Central bank vice governor Bošnjak tenders resignation

LJUBLJANA - Marko Bošnjak, one of the five vice-governors of Slovenia's central bank, tendered his resignation in the aftermath of accusations that he evaded taxes on rental income. The move comes almost a year after the central bank asked the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption to investigate claims that Bošnjak failed to pay taxes on rental income from an apartment in Ljubljana. Unofficial information suggests the governing board was close to completing the procedure and was set to reach a decision next week, but Bošnjak tendered his resignation before that.

Responding to ouster motion, minister wonders whether opposition has nothing more to contribute

LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek has responded to the ouster motion against him by setting out what he says proves decisions on the procurement of vital equipment were optimal given the circumstances of the health emergency, wondering whether the motion is all the opposition is capable of contributing at this difficult time. The minister attributed the responsibility for the situation to everyone involved in decision-making on the matter until 14 March, when the new government took over.

MPs leave it to ministry to draft electoral law changes

LJUBLJANA - Heads of the parliamentary deputy groups and parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič discussed reforming the electoral law, with a majority agreeing that the relevant ministry should be tasked with drafting proposals for redefining the electoral districts. The meeting came after a bill which sought to abolish electoral districts and introduce a preference vote at the level of the existing eight electoral units fell three votes short of the needed two-thirds majority in the National Assembly at the beginning of March.

Issues surrounding govt loan guarantees yet to be clarified

LJUBLJANA - The banking system and the Finance Ministry are yet to settle all the issues surrounding state guarantees for bank loans designed to secure liquidity to businesses impacted by the coronavirus epidemic. Earlier this month, the Finance Ministry issued the rules for lending under the emergency legislation passed as part of the first two government stimulus packages. However, the Bank Association has asked for further consultation over technical issues that are still open. Issues have also been raised by the European Central Bank with respect to collateral.

Akrapovič planning workforce cuts due to Covid-19 crisis

IVANČNA GORICA/ČRNOMELJ - Exhaust systems maker Akrapovič, which employs more than 1,000 workers, is planning redundancies in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout. The company has not disclosed any details as to the number of layoffs beyond saying that it was striving to keep the number of redundancies to a minimum, however workforce cuts were needed due to the precarious situation in the market. The company hopes the situation will soon go back to normal.

Minority points to inequality in reopening of Austrian border

KLAGENFURT, Austria - An organisation of the Slovenian minority in Austria addressed a letter to Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer warning about Austria's unequal treatment of Slovenia in regard to the easing border restrictions. Manuel Jug, the head of the Association of Slovenian Organisations (ZSO), said that Austria had lifted restrictions on the border with Germany and Switzerland without any complications and urged Nehammer to ensure Austria treated all its neighbouring countries equally.

Poll shows Slovenians generally happy with govt's tackling of epidemic

LJUBLJANA - Slovenians have given the government's efforts to fight the coronavirus a generally positive mark, shows a poll carried out by market research agency Mediana. Over 43% are satisfied with the government's measures designed to fight the virus and their relaxation, whereas almost 34% are unsatisfied with them. Of these, 15.5% are completely satisfied and 15% completely unsatisfied with the measures, respectively, which Mediana interprets as the measures being received quite well.

Slovenian Caritas helping battle Covid-19 in Serbia, Lebanon, Rwanda

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian chapter of the Catholic charity Caritas has been helping in the battle against Covid-19 with projects co-funded by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry in Serbia, Lebanon and Rwanda. More than EUR 31,000 will allocated for this purpose to the three countries. This year Caritas Slovenia launched two projects of international development cooperation and humanitarian aid focussing on the most vulnerable groups of women in Lebanon and Serbia. In Rwanda, the main goal of the project is to make the use of local resources more efficient and sustainable.

April retail sales lowest since 2006

LJUBLJANA - Retail sales plunged by 22.6% year-on-year in April to the lowest level since 2006, show fresh Statistics Office data. At the monthly level the decline was 8.8%, following a 12% contraction in March. All segments of retail contracted as most outlets except for grocery stores, petrol stations and pharmacies were closed down due to the coronavirus epidemic.

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here

27 May 2020, 16:46 PM

STA, 27 May 2020 - Slovenians have given the government's efforts to fight the coronavirus a generally positive mark, a poll carried out by market research agency Mediana showed on Wednesday. Over 43% are satisfied with the government's measures designed to fight the virus and their relaxation, whereas almost 34% are unsatisfied with them.

Of these, 15.5% are completely satisfied and 15% completely unsatisfied with the measures, respectively, which Mediana interprets as the measures being received quite well.

Slovenians are also somewhat split on how the government communicated the adopted restrictive measures and their subsequent relaxation to the public.

As many as 42% of those polled consider the communication either poor or slightly better than poor, and 43% see it as good or very good.

The respondents were also asked to agree or disagree with several claims about the government's tackling of the epidemic and its ability to address global challenges.

Almost 50% do not trust the government will take the right decisions for Slovenia, as opposed to almost 35% who trust it on this.

Conversely, as many as 53% trust it that it will be able to address future global challenges, while 32% do not, which Mediana says shows a rather pessimistic outlook.

Over 50% meanwhile agree with a claim that Slovenia has addressed the epidemic better than other countries, but almost 23% hold the opposite view.

Medians believes the last two figures give the government an overall positive mark about its action during the epidemic.

The agency said that as many as 39% of Serbians and 26% of Croats said their respective governments tackled the coronavirus crisis worse than other countries.

The survey was carried out online on 15 and 16 May polling 505 Slovenians residents aged 15 to 75.

Two new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, no deaths

STA, 27 May 2020 - A total of 809 tests for coronavirus were conducted in Slovenia on Tuesday, with two tests coming back positive which is the highest daily case count after two weeks of zero or one infections per day. No Covid-19 deaths were recorded, with the national death toll remaining at 108, show the latest government data.

Eight Covid-19 patients were in hospital yesterday, the same as on Monday, including two in intensive care. Two people were meanwhile discharged from hospital.

So far, 1,471 coronavirus infections have been recorded in Slovenia and 76,579 tests have been performed.

A total of 290 Covid-19 patients have been released from hospital until Tuesday.

27 May 2020, 12:22 PM

At least 500 cultural workers – with the organisers claiming up to 1,000 – gathered in front of the Museum of Contemporary Arts and Ethnographic Museum in Ljubljana this Tuesday to protest against the alleged lack of responsiveness on the part of the Ministry of Culture amid the coronavirus lockdown. Specifically, they protested the end of support for the sector, and the lack of a comprehensive strategy to preserve and promote Slovenian culture, as many other European countries have.

The protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the Ministry's work by marching in front of its headquarters, where they covered the Ministry's large windows with printed appeals of cultural organisations and individuals.

Related: Cultural Workers Critical of Govt Covid Support

Cultural workers are suffering from the shutdown of all private venues, and thus a loss income from cinemas, concert halls, theatres and so on, as well as the ending of coronavirus aid for the self-employed, while those who usually receive support from the state – publishers, performers and the like – are also under increasing financial pressure.

Some 100,000 people work in the sector, and the organisers of the protest highlighted the fact that the nation’s culture has a significant multiplier effect on the economy, as well as playing a role in diplomacy and soft power.

27 May 2020, 11:51 AM

A reminder that the deadline for the basic income and exemption from contributions is approaching, with June 1st 2020 being the last date self-employed residents whose 2020 income will fall – or is expected to fall – at least 10% compared to 2019 can submit a statement on e-Davki.

Details on how to claim the “corona aid” can be found here.

The next and the final basic income transfer will be on June 10, 2020.

27 May 2020, 09:19 AM

STA, 26 May 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša announced potential changes to tax legislation and media funding as he gave a weekly interview with Nova24TV, a broadcaster he has co-founded, on Monday evening. The group advising the government led by tax expert Ivan Simič will examine the possibilities for changes to the tax policy, he said.

"But some fast tax cuts could not be expected in this situation," he said, noting that due to the financial crisis ten years ago, the VAT had been raised.

He would also support an idea for every taxpayer to be able to earmark more than the current 0.5% of their income tax to an organisation to their liking.

"We'll be looking for a solution in this direction. First proposals can be expected by the end of the year," he announced.

Asked what the government could do about the compulsory payment of licence fee for public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, Janša said the Culture Ministry is already "working on some legislative changes".

"The least that could be done is distribute this enormous amount of money in a more just way."

He indicated that the public broadcaster could do "a much better job with considerably less money".

Janša also commented on a controversy about the police having accessed personal data of coalition politicians under the Marjan Šarec government to discredit them.

He said somebody had accessed the personal data of then leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) Karl Erjavec and of Modern Centre Party (SMC) leader Zdravko Počivalšek.

The order came from the then interior minister, said Janša, announcing that "it will be checked what had actually happened".

Boštjan Poklukar from the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), which led the government, was interior minister at the time.

Janša also discussed the previous government's action or inaction in taking the necessary measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

He said he would release his correspondence with former Health Minster Aleš Šabeder when the time came and if Šabeder agreed to it, indicating former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec had prevented the minister from taking action faster.

"So that people see what was going on and what the former prime minister was actually doing when he should have acted responsibly and take certain measures," Janša said.

Responding to the statement for TV Slovenija on Tuesday, Šarec's LMŠ labelled it fake news and Šabeder toned it down, with the public broadcaster saying he did not want to meddle in the Janša-Šarec dispute.

"We see the claim that Marjan Šarec tried to prevent anything to the former health minister as yet another case of fake news by Janez Janša and Nova24," the LMŠ wrote.

Šabeder meanwhile wrote it had been necessary and fair to promptly brief the new government, which was taking over during such an emergency, on the number of infected persons and on other vital developments and to coordinate the measures.

"This is also the main content of these messages," said Šabeder, adding that the situation had been very much war-like. He also said it had become clear that his team at the ministry had worked in the right direction, while the situation had been changing from minute to minute.

27 May 2020, 07:04 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia opens border to EU tourists

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian government added new exemptions to the quarantine requirement for EU and Schengen zone citizens that in effect allow citizens from across the EU to enter the country as tourists, as long as they have a confirmation of booking. The same applies to owners of property in Slovenia. Under the latest rules, there are 17 exemptions from quarantine for EU and Schengen zone citizens, mostly for business purposes, healthcare and education. The exemptions are a stop-gap measure as EU countries gradually reopen borders based on bilateral or multilateral agreements. The Slovenian and Italian foreign ministers are expected to meet later this week to discuss how to proceed with the opening of the border, government spokesman Jelko Kacin said.

Ambassador: Slovenia closely watching development of EU recovery fund

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia's Ambassador to the EU Iztok Jarc said he expected the level of development of member states, their unemployment rates, drop in exports and the openness of their economies to be among the key criteria in the distribution of funds from the European Commission-proposed new recovery and resilience tool. Jarc, who represented Slovenia in a videocall of EU affairs ministers on the topic, said Slovenia was closely watching the developments and explained that more would only be known on Wednesday as the Commission unveils the proposal along with adjustments to the new financial framework.

Additional easing of restrictions expected next week

LJUBLJANA - Government coronavirus spokesperson Jelko Kacin announced that an additional easing of some of the remaining restrictions could be expected on Monday. He singled out the opening of hotels irrespective of size. Efforts are under way to open fitness and wellness centres, while swimming pools and similar facilities remain an open issue. He explained that individual departments were processing the guidelines and recommendations issued by the National Institute of Public Health to see what was possible within the given limitations. A decision on whether all primary and secondary school children return to school before the end of the academic year or not is meanwhile expected to be taken by the government on Thursday, said the head of the Association of School Headmasters, Gregor Pečan, after today's meeting on the matter at the Education Ministry.

Janša could change taxes, media financing

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced potential changes to tax legislation and media funding as he gave a weekly interview with the private broadcaster Nova24TV on Monday evening. He said the group led by tax expert Ivan Simič would examine the possibilities for changes, "but some fast tax cuts could not be expected in this [coronavirus] situation". Asked what the government could do about the compulsory payment of licence fee for public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, he said the Culture Ministry was already working on some legislative changes. "The least that could be done is distribute this enormous amount of money in a more just way."

No new coronavirus infections, one Covid-19 death

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's coronavirus case count remains at 1,469 after no new infections were confirmed on Monday after 754 tests were conducted. One new Covid-19 fatality was reported, rising the death toll to 108, the latest official data show. Only nine Covid-19 patients remain in hospital. The figure of hospitalised Covid-19 patients dropped by six on the day before. Two were in intensive care, one fewer than on Sunday.

Slovenia pledges EUR 10,000 at donors conference for Venezuelan refugees

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia pledged a humanitarian contribution of EUR 10,000 as part of today's international donors conference in solidarity with Venezuelan refugees and migrants in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the conference, organised by the European Commission together with the Spanish government, the international community raised EUR 2.54 billion, EUR 595 million of which in grants. Slovenia was represented at the virtual donors conference by Foreign Ministry State Secretary Tone Kajzer, who announced Slovenia's contribution would be provided through International Red Cross to Venezuelan refugees in the Brazilian cities of Boa Vista and Manaus, the Foreign Ministry said. Slovenia provided EUR 50,000 in aid to people in Venezuela in 2019.

Parliamentary debate shows extra powers for army not likely soon

LJUBLJANA - Coalition and opposition MPs remained on opposite banks in a parliamentary debate on whether to activate Article 37.a of the defence act to give limited police powers to the army to enhance border protection; the proposal ended its way through parliament with today's debate after it failed to muster the required two-thirds majority on the parliamentary Defence Committee in April. Today's debate was held after being postponed on 7 April, when the coalition MPs indicated they would check whether the National Assembly could still vote on the proposal despite it failing to get past the committee a few days earlier.

Illegal crossings of border drop by a quarter in first four months

LJUBLJANA - In the first four months of 2020, the Slovenian police recorded 2,394 illegal crossings of the border, which is almost 25% less than in the same period last year. The decline is at least partially a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and the related stricter measures on the border. Like in the same period last year, citizens of Pakistan accounted for the largest number of illegal crossings of the border (654), followed by citizens of Morocco (523) and Afghanistan (340).

European NGOs urge govt to uphold environmental standards

LJUBLJANA - The government received a letter from the Green 10, a coalition of ten of the largest environmental NGOs in Europe, which expresses concern over recently adopted and pending legal provisions limiting the involvement of NGOs in environmental permit procedures. "The measures that are already adopted in the anti-corona legislation and are to be now extended until the end of 2021 are, according to our assessment, against European environmental standards," reads the letter. Several Slovenian environmental NGOs meanwhile staged a sit-down in front of the Environment Ministry to protest against the legislation which would limit their involvement in administrative and court proceedings.

Nova24TV poll shows SDS, LMŠ, DeSUS, SMC gaining ground

LJUBLJANA - Three coalition parties and the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) gained ground among decided voters in the latest poll commissioned by the private broadcaster Nova24TV. Among decided voters, the ruling Democrats (SDS) went from 30.6% in mid-May to 34.1%. The LMŠ saw its ratings rise even more, going from 17.9% to 23.6%. The opposition Social Democrats (SD) ranked third, their rating dropping from 12.8% to 10.5%. The opposition Left remained flat at 9.5%.

Small businesses appeal for a fourth stimulus package

LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Small Business (OZS) called on the government to start working on a fourth stimulus package to help the industries that have not been covered in the third stimulus package, which is currently in parliamentary procedure. The appeal was made by the OZS management board as it discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its members, most of whom are grappling with slack or no business. The third package brings a subsidised short-time work scheme and measures to help catering and tourism. It also extends by a month, until the end of June, the furlough scheme, the centrepiece of the first stimulus package.

Culture workers rally in protest against ministry's inaction

LJUBLJANA - Culture workers covered the front of the building housing the Ministry of Culture with hundreds of pieces of paper with appeals for action to help the sector hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic as part of a protest targeting what the organisers described as the ministry's silence and inaction. The protest, initiated by the Working Group of Culture Workers, attracted around 1,000 participants by the group's estimates. Petja Grafenauer, an art critic and art historian, said the protest sought to draw attention to the fact that unlike other countries, Slovenia only took urgent social measures to help the creativity sector.

Diversification to make it easier for Kolektor to survive crisis

LJUBLJANA - Stojan Petrič, the chief supervisor of Kolektor, believes the industrial conglomerate will emerge from the coronavirus crisis easier than its car industry competition because it has diversified to energy and construction. He told the newspaper Delo the two industries currently brought adequate return on investment, while the automotive industry segment was shrinking significantly. The company plans to reassign some of its workers to meet the demand for energy products and move production from expensive locations such as Germany to lower-cost countries.

Maribor-based power distributor gets EUR 31m loan from EIB

MARIBOR - The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted a EUR 31 million loan to the electricity distributor Elektro Maribor aimed at financing maintenance and improvements in the reliability and in quality standards of electricity supply in north-eastern Slovenia. The EIB and Elektro Maribor said the loan supports the company's EUR 81.2 million investment in reconstruction and development of its electricity distribution network in order to minimise power blackouts and blackout-related damage to property and environment.

Slovenia ranks seventh in latest KidsRights Index

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia placed seventh according to the 2020 KidsRights Index, released by the KidsRights Foundation, an international children's aid and advocacy NGO. The country received 0.897 points overall, chalking up the highest score in protection and the lowest in the child rights environment category. The index score is determined by how much effort countries dedicate to children's rights, including protection, health and education, life expectancy, maternal mortality ratio and adolescent birth rate.

Satellite emergency departments to be crated country-wide

LJUBLJANA - The government decided on Monday to set up nine hospital-satellite emergency departments around the country at community health centres to complement the existing network of hospital emergency departments. The Health Ministry told the STA on Tuesday the new departments in the so-called grey areas where emergency medical services are not as readily available would be introduced in several stages, meaning other areas would get them in the coming years. The creation of satellite EDs dates back to the term of Health Minister Milojka Kolar Celarc (2014-18), when the plan was to establish ten emergency departments across the country and several satellite emergency departments. Due to the opposition by local communities and some politicians, only new hospital emergency departments were created.

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here

26 May 2020, 20:40 PM

The Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia (FURS) reminds taxpayers that the deadline for filling their 2019 tax report is fast approaching.

Due to COVID 19 pandemic, the deadline was extended from March 31st to May 31st this year.

However, since May 31st 2020 is on Sunday, the last day to submit tax reports is in fact June 1st.

Furthermore, taxpayers are required to pay their tax obligations within a 30 day deadline from the submission of their tax return. If they submit their tax return on June 1st, then any eventual tax liabilities must be paid by July 1st at the latest.

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