STA, 28 December 2020 - Schools and institutions for special needs children might reopen on 5 January, a day after coronavirus testing is organised for the staff, Education Minister Simona Kustec said on Monday. Pupils in classes one through three of primary school are to be next to return.
The rest of pupils are expected back at schools by the end of January if all goes well, Kustec said as she arrived for a session of the parliamentary Education Committee called to discuss the return of students to brick-and-mortar schools.
The minister said that the relevant task force would adopt advice for the government on Wednesday, while the government would make a final decision by the end of the week.
Kustec said that the education and health ministries were finalising testing protocols. Those working with special needs children will be tested on 4 January, followed by staff working with students in the first three years of primary school.
Testing will be conducted at school premises by mobile teams provided by the Health Ministry, said Kustec, adding that schools had determined in internal polls last week that more than half of their staff would be tested.
If interest in testing is also expressed by parents, testing will be made available for children as well. But it will not be mandatory, the minister said.
On Saturday, the government's Covid-19 spokesman Jelko Kacin raised a lot of dust when he said that school staff would have to get tested over the New Year's weekend or else they could not come to work on Monday.
Health Ministry State Secretary Marija Magajne said at the government briefing today that testing would not be obligatory.
She added that should some decide not to get tested, it was a matter of employers to act in line with occupational hazard regulations.
The minister underlined today that the return to school must be safe and permanent, meaning that teachers, children and parents will have to follow safety protocols.
The Education Committee meanwhile backed the resolutions by the centre-left proponents of the session urging the government to allow special needs children to return to school as a priority.
It also backed a coalition-sponsored resolution urging the government to work towards a prompt and safe return of all primary and secondary school children to school as well as pre-school kids to kindergartens.
This was after a debate in which the MPs of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Left and the Social Democrats (SD) criticised the government for what they consider an arbitrary approach to closing and opening schools.
Željko Cigler of the Left said schools had been closed since early November, while no clear plan for their closure or reopening had been presented.
Minister Kustec said the plan of how children would return to school had been know for a while, adding that special needs children would go back to school next week.
Cigler claimed schools were not the main source of infections, but State Secretary Damir Orehovec said this was not true as the number of infections there had been growing fast when the decision to close them had been made.
Iva Dimic of the coalition New Slovenia (NSi) said not everything was as bad as the opposition would like to show.
"The situation is hard for everyone, for us and for parents, school children and teachers, and they are are doing their best," added Mojca Škrinjar of the ruling Democrats (SDS).
STA, 28 December 2020 - The management of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) has appealed to Prime Minister Janez Janša and members of his government to support the call by the agency's staff and supervisory board for the Government Communication Office (UKOM) to restore the financing of the public service provided by the STA.
In a press release on Monday, the STA management says that after failing to pay the STA the fee for public service for October, UKOM now also rejected the claim for the fee for November as well as refused to pay for the services provided by the STA for the government administration for October and November.
It notes that UKOM had been regularly meeting its liabilities towards the STA until October, but stopped since then even though the regulatory framework has not changed in the meantime.
"Through arbitrary suspension of financing of the public service, UKOM has overstepped its powers under law and contract," the release reads, adding that such a view had been upheld by the government legislation service as well as by a legal opinion commissioned by the STA.
The STA continues to perform the public service as set out by the relevant law, thus honouring its commitments despite the suspension of financing, while the government has not yet taken its position on the matter, despite several appeals, notes the release.
UKOM continues to make the monthly payments conditional on the handover of certain documents, despite failing to cite the legal basis or provide a suitable authorisation to access those documents, the management says.
Repeating its readiness to provide requested information to the owner in accordance with valid legislation, the management notes that it follows from a freedom of information request response to a coalition MP that the government as the STA shareholder has never authorised UKOM to act on its behalf.
The STA management also notes that the parliamentary Culture Committee urged the government on 14 December to meet within three days its obligations and pay the STA for its services and thus ensure the agency's continued stability. UKOM has not honoured the committee's resolution and has even announced it will not pay any more invoices to STA this year.
This is why the STA management expects the government to restore financing of the STA for 2020 and to sign the annual agreement to pay the STA for public service in 2021, since as the sole STA shareholder, it has an obligation to ensure comprehensive and undisrupted performance of the STA public service based on the annual business plan.
The STA supervisory board adopted the 2021 business plan and sent it to the government on 21 December.
The management wonders how long the government would allow such a situation to continue. "Allowing such a situation calls all members of the government to responsibility to put in their word and do all within their remit for regular financing of the STA's activities to be resumed," reads the release.
Modern Centre Party (SMC) leader and Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek meanwhile said that the matter had to be resolved before the end of the year. He is to propose to the government a decree "giving clear powers and instructions" to UKOM.
"The government must resolve this urgently, that is before the end of the year because the STA is a very important institution and its work must not be in jeopardy. It is a matter of special urgency to make sure its employees ... get paid."
Another member of the cabinet, Education Minister Simona Kustec, also a member of the SMC, also expressed the wish that "this unnecessary conflict" being fought on the backs of STA employees be resolved as soon as possible.
Speaker Igor Zorčič, also a member of the coalition SMC, said he would actively advocate for the resolution of this issue as soon as possible. His office said that more is to be known tomorrow, but would not go into details.
Zorčič also told the STA that he supported the efforts of STA employees and expected the government to heed the decisions of the parliamentary Culture Committee to provide sustainable funding for the STA as soon as possible.
However, both Prime Minister Janša and UKOM boss Uroš Urbanija said on Twitter that UKOM would insist on the STA providing the disputed documents to UKOM before paying its liabilities.
Pogodbene obveznosti do @STA bodo izpolnjene takoj, ko bo UKOM prejel in preveril zahtevano dokumentacijo. Pozivanje @vladaRS k nezakonitemu ravnanju v korist direktorja agencije, ki eklatantno krši pogodbo in ogroža socialni položaj zaposlenih, je posmeh vladavini prava.— Janez Janša (@JJansaSDS) December 28, 2020
Veselinovič @STA_novice je podpisal pogodbo, da je UKOM "predstavnik ustanovitelja". Ko je ta "predstavnik ustanovitelja" zahteval dokumentacijo, pa se je spomnil, da UKOM ni "predstavnik ustanovitelja". Denar bi, ampak bohnedaj, da ga kdo kaj. Še #Vesel bi ga težko podprl. https://t.co/lkSn8Kk6yr— Uroš Urbanija (@UrosUrbanija) December 28, 2020
Janša said that "calls to illegal action to the benefit of the agency's director, who is in blatant violation of the contract and jeopardises the social situation of employees, are mocking the rule of law".
STA director Bojan Veselinovič denied allegations that he had called for illegal action, instead he was the one being forced to act illegally by "a series of letters from UKOM director". He believes that UKOM's actions are making a mockery of the rule of law.
He also said he never claimed that UKOM did not have the power to sign the contract on behalf of the government. "I did raise the issue, however, that UKOM does not have the power of shareholder to access the documents and the data it wants to see because it signed the contract."
Janša claimed in his response that if STA management believed UKOM did not have the power to sign the annual public service contract it should not have signed it.
Veselinovič said that Urbanija "violates not only contractual obligations toward the STA but also forces the government, which is required by law to ensure funding of the agency's public service, to violate the law".
The coalition New Slovenia (NSi) echoed a similar position to Janša's, saying that the work performed must be paid and that the payment must be made as soon as the STA forwards the requested documents to UKOM. The party believes that the issue could be resolved between UKOM and the STA.
STA, 27 December 2020 - A total of 614 Covid-19 cases were confirmed in Slovenia on Saturday as 25.1% of a total of 2,438 PCR and rapid tests came back positive. The positivity rate remained on a par with Friday. Thirty-three people died, pushing the death toll to 2,565.
The number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients rose by 14 to 1,179. 205 people required intensive care, 4 fewer than on Friday, while 38 patients were discharged from hospital.
The number of PCR tests on Saturday reached 1,880, of which 548 came back positive, while 66 infections were confirmed from 558 rapid tests.
Mass vaccination against Covid-19 in Slovenia started at 8:30 AM at care homes for the elderly. The first three residents who got vaccinated were retired Archbishop of Maribor Franc Kramberger, Angelca Butenko and Jože Pelko. pic.twitter.com/TXREnFM9FS— Slovenian Government (@govSlovenia) December 27, 2020
STA, 27 December 2020 - Mass vaccination against Covid-19 got under way among the elderly at care homes at 8:30 a.m. when the first three care home residents were vaccinated, retired Archbishop of Maribor Franc Kramberger, Angelca Butenko and Jože Pelko, the government said on Twitter on Sunday.
It's important to single the three out but until 9:30 a.m. many care home residents had already been vaccinated, Health Ministry State Secretary Marija Magajne told the press, speaking in front of the Fužine care home in Ljubljana. "This inspires hope that we are at the start of the end of the epidemic."
Magajne announced that people older than 80 who are at home could be vaccinated towards the end of January.
March or later is the most likely date for the general population to be vaccinated, or sooner if vaccines developed by other producers are approved.
The state secretary said that all care homes received as much vaccine as there was interest among the elderly and a proportionate share for the staff.
Slovenia received the first 9,750 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Saturday.
The vaccine was delivered to UKC Ljubljana hospital and then distributed to community health centres, which are in charge of vaccination at care homes.
Next to be vaccinated after the elderly and staff at care homes will be medical staff at hospitals.
The country expects to receive another 6,825 doses of vaccine next week, and then 16,575 doses weekly next year.
STA, 27 December 2020 - Hairdressers, produce markets and newsstands will be able to reopen for eight days between 28 December and 4 January, according to a government decision taken at yesterday's correspondence session. The government meanwhile extended the ban on religious services and cultural events until 5 January.
Exceptions to the culture ban are libraries and outdoor heritage sites as well as museums and galleries in the regions with a better epidemiological situation - Central Slovenia, Goriška, Gorenjska, Obalno-Kraška and from now on also Primorsko-Notranjska.
Religious services at churches can meanwhile be performed against very strict precautionary measures, with one of them prescribing as many as 30 square metres per person, or less if the persons are from the same household.
STA, 26 December 2020 – On Saturday inspectors sealed the ski lifts at Krvavec ski centre, which remained open despite a ban on ski lift operations and a fine it received on Friday. First, the gondola taking skiers to the ski slopes was sealed and than other lifts, RTC Krvavec told the STA. The skiers who were already skiing were enabled a safe return to the valley.
The inspection procedure is still under way and the RTC Krvavec, which said this morning the centre would continue to operate despite the ban until the end of the year, could not say what its future steps would be.
The Health Inspectorate said in a written statement that the Krvavec ski centre had been found to be operating on Friday despite a ban on operations, so the centre had been ordered to shut down.
According to public broadcaster RTV Slovenija it was also slapped with a EUR 4,400 fine.
Today, another inspection was carried out to find the ski lifts operating nevertheless. The ski lift operator will thus get a fine of EUR 4,000, the inspectorate said.
The RTC Krvavec was again called to close today but this did not happen, so the inspectors issued another order for a shut-down, explaining the operator that if this decision was not honoured the devices would be sealed.
As the ski lifts continued to operate, the inspectors in cooperation with the Infrastructure Inspectorate sealed all the ski lifts while enabling skiers to return to the valley with the gondola.
According to inspectors, the ski lift operator cooperated in the procedure, so it was carried out safely and without disturbances. Police also helped in the procedure.
Ski gondolas were ordered to stop operating with the government decree that entered into force on Thursday as temporary easing of restrictions expired before the Christmas holidays. They could begin operating again on 1 January under the condition that the operator organises fast antigen testing.
Government Covid-19 spokesman Jelko Kacin said today that ski centres would be opened again when the epidemiological situation allowed it, suggesting that this might not be on 1 January.
He said though that the government was working to create the conditions for the reopening of ski centres on 1 January. But the priority is to allow schools to reopen for the first three grades on 4 January, he stressed.
Prime Minister Janez Janša commented on the Krvavec case on Twitter by noting that skiing centres in some European countries with a better epidemiological situation than Slovenia's and more reserves in healthcare were completely closed and that "some are literally making a fool out of our health and lives".
We'll be on a light schedule over the holiday season, with only updates of the most important news.
If you're looking for COVID-19 figures then check out the excellent covid-19.sledilnik.org, but on this end we'll be taking a break and enjoying time spent with family, friends, books, food, drinks and alone. Have a good one.
STA, 24 December 2020 - The government has extended by another three months most measures aimed at helping businesses, farmers and employees bridge the crisis. The measures that would have expired at the end of the year will thus be in place until the end of March.
The proposal for the extension of measures from the fifth and sixth stimulus packages had come from the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, which proposed a six-month extension given that the epidemic is not over yet and that certain activities and services are still banned.
One of the measures that are being extended is the monthly basic income in the amount of EUR 1,100 for the self-employed who cannot work because of the epidemic. The measure was introduced with the fifth stimulus package.
Sole proprietors and freelancers will continue to be eligible for the income if they have been working at least since 1 September and if their revenue in 2020 is 20% lower than last year.
A similar aid will also go to farmers and sole shareholders, while religious workers are to get a basic income of EUR 700, plus their social security contributions covered by the state when the seventh package is passed next week.
Those whose business is affected because of quarantine or childcare will also get partial compensation; EUR 250-750 a month if they do not receive the basic income.
Subsidies for workers in quarantine or in case of force majeure will also remain in place.
The government also extended at yesterday's session the measure of partial covering of fixed monthly costs to companies, self-employed with at least one employee and shareholders whose revenue dropped by at least 30% in the final quarter year-on-year.
The ministry assessed a six-month extension of the measures would cost the state EUR 1.2 billion, so a three-month extension is probably worth about half as much.
Last week, the subsidised reduced working hours scheme that was introduced in June was extended until June 2021. The furlough scheme will meanwhile expire at the end of January 2021.
STA, 24 December 2020 - The government has shortened the list of exemptions allowing people from red-listed countries to enter Slovenia without having to quarantine or produce a negative PCR coronavirus test. Moreover, in terms of classification, the green and orange lists will have been scrapped on Friday, as entry from low-risk countries is considered safe.
See the list of red countries here, as of 19 December 2020
The Government Communication Office (UKOM) said in a press release Wednesday evening that the government has shrunk the list of exemptions down to seven. The changes will take effect on Friday.
Daily commuters who work in an EU or Schengen country will still be able to cross the border without having to quarantine or produce a negative test if they return to Slovenia within 14 hours.
People working in transport and logistics are also exempt from the quarantine rule, with hauliers obligated to pass through the country within eight hours.
Persons passing through the country may also enter without quarantine or a negative test, but must exit the country again in a maximum of six hours.
Foreign security officers (police or justice department officers) may also enter the country without restrictions but must leave immediately after completing their official business.
An exemption is also in place for persons transported into the country by paramedics and the accompanying staff.
Holders of diplomatic passports may also enter the country without restrictions.
The government has scrapped exemptions applying to those having to cross the border due to education, for urgent business reasons, for a scheduled medical procedure, owners of land across the border, those with close family members across the border and for access to services which are closer to one's home across the border than within Slovenia.
The government also simplified the classification of countries by risk, abolishing the green and orange lists of low-risk countries. This means that entry from countries or administrative units not listed as red is unrestricted.
The government updated the red list, which continues to include all EU member states, including all four of Slovenia's neighbouring countries.
The only parts of the EU not on the list are individual administrative units: Finnish Uusimaa, the Subcarpathian region in Poland, Madeira in Portugal, France's Brittany and Corsica, the Greek island of Crete and islands of the South Aegean.
While a majority of Norway is not on the red list, travel is restricted from the administrative units of Oslo and Viken.
The red list also includes virtually all non-EU members in Slovenia's proximity, including Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia.
Canada, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the US are also on the red list, UKOM said.
STA, 23 December 2020 - Movement among municipalities in the western Slovenian regions with a favourable epidemiological situation will no longer be possible after Christmas, the government decided on Wednesday evening. Movement among municipalities was allowed for those using the contact tracing app on their mobile device.
The government said today that the decision to allow movement across municipal borders was linked to the temporary opening of some shops and services.
These will shut down once again under a decree valid between 24 December and 4 January, so there is no need for the movement across municipal borders.
The government has previously said that movement across the country will be allowed between noon on Christmas Eve and 8pm on Christmas Day, thus the closure of municipal borders will take effect on Friday evening.
Unless the epidemiological situation worsens, a similar regime will be in place for New Year's. Nevertheless, the 9pm to 6am curfew remains in place.
While the app was struck from the list of exemptions allowing movement across municipal borders, a new exemption was added, allowing movement across municipal borders for the purpose of physical activity, either individually or in the company of members of their household.
Other exemptions, such as going to work or providing help, remain in effect.
STA, 23 December 2020 - The government adopted changes to the road traffic rules act that significantly lower fines for speeding, which according to Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec will be comparable at the EU level. The minister believes more effort should be invested in prevention and control.
In line with the changes, divers who exceed the speed limit by up to 10 km/h in an area where speed is limited to 50 km/h would pay a EUR 40 fine.
Those exceeding the limit by 10-20 km/h would earn a EUR 120 fine plus three penalty points, instead of the current fine of EUR 250 plus three penalty points.
The fine for exceeding the limit by between 20 and 30 km/h would be EUR 250 plus five penalty points.
Presenting the changes to the press on Wednesday, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said that a new penalty would be introduced for exceeding the speed limit by between 30 and 40 km/h - a EUR 500 fine and seven penalty points.
Those who exceed the speed limit by between 40 and 50 km/h would pay a EUR 750 and nine penalty points would be added to their driving record.
Fines for speeding in the areas where speed is limited to 90 km/h and on motorway and expressways would also be lowered.
Speeding in the areas where speed is limited to 30 km/h of up to 10 km/h would come with a EUR 40 fine, of between 10 and 20 km/h with a EUR 130 fine, and of between 20 and 30 km/h with a EUR 500 fine plus seven penalty points.
Those exceeding the limit by 30 km/h or more in the low speed areas would pay a EUR 1,200 fine and get stripped of their driving licence.
"Personally, I'm an advocate of lower fines for speeding as ... I think there is no correlation between high fines and fatal traffic accidents," said Vrtovec, adding that effort should be invested in prevention and traffic control.
"Under this proposal, our fines will finally be comparable at the European level," he said, pointing to neighbouring Austria, where fines are even lower.
The proposed changes also include the possibility to turn right at a red light at crossroads with good visibility and elsewhere where this is possible. "These crossroads will be properly marked, and traffic flow will certainly be better."
Electric scooters will be defined as light motor vehicles and will be permitted to be driven on bicycle lanes or along the right edge of the road, as is the case for bicycles or mopeds.
"On the other hand, electric scooters will be prohibited on areas reserved for pedestrians," Vrtovec said, adding that only persons aged 14 and older would be permitted to drive them. Those aged 18 and older would need to wear helmets.
The minister also said that those using their mobile phone while driving would however pay a higher fine, but did not specify.
The ministry had proposed increasing the fine from EUR 120 to EUR 250 plus three penalty points.
This summary is provided by the STA:
Vaccine expected in Slovenia on Saturday, vaccination to start on Sunday
LJUBLJANA - Vaccination against Covid-19 is expected to start at care homes around Slovenia on Sunday, after the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is expected to arrive in the country on Thursday. Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said care home residents will be the first to get vaccinated as the most vulnerable group. Slovenia expects to receive 9,750 vaccine shots in the first batch, just as other EU members, with another 6,825 to arrive by the end of the year, the Health Ministry said. This batch should suffice for all care home residents who have not been infected yet.
IMAD forecasts 6.6% GDP contraction for 2020, 4.3% growth for 2021
LJUBLJANA - IMAD, the government's macroeconomic think tank, reduced the GDP contraction forecast for 2020 from 6.7% to 6.6% and downgraded its growth projection for next year from 5.1% to 4.3%, the Government Communication Office said after the government took note of IMAD's report. IMAD says in its winter forecast that following a significant drop in the second quarter of this year, the economy rebounded better than expected in the third quarter. The think tank expects another drop in the last quarter, but not as severe as it was in the spring. In 2022, Slovenia could see a 4.4% growth.
Increase in infections as mass testing starts
LJUBLJANA - A total of 2,129 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Slovenia on Tuesday from a combined 10,593 antigen and PCR tests as voluntary mass testing got under way, government data show. The combined test positivity rate was 20%. Another 36 patients with Covid-19 died, which brings the overall death toll to 2,454, according to the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org. The 7-day average of new cases is 1,349 and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents 94.
Govt to approve national recovery and resilience plan in February
LJUBLJANA - The government took note of the drafting of Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan, the basis for the country to draw EUR 5.2 billion in EU funds. The plan will be adopted by the government after the EU's recovery and resilience plan is approved, expectedly in February. The government tasked the Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy to submit the final version for approval after the relevant EU directive is passed by the EU Parliament, expectedly in February.
Janša says Slovenians will celebrate independence anniversary separated yet united
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša pointed out in his address ahead of Independence and Unity Day the decision for independence 30 years ago had been the right decision to make and also economically grounded. He said the epidemic must not spoil the celebration. "We will celebrate separated yet united," he said as he addressed a special TV-only ceremony. Earlier in the day, the National Assembly met for a ceremonial session to celebrate the holiday, which is observed on 26 December in memory of the declration of the 23 December 1990 referendum result in favour of independence.
Public transportation to run during festive season, no more cross-municipal movement after Christmas
LJUBLJANA - Public transportation will continue to run during the festive season until the end of the year, even if it was initially relaxed only for the period between 15 and 23 December. The government also decided that ski gondolas, which are classified as public transport in Slovenia, will begin operating on 1 January, under the condition that the operator organises fast antigen testing. Meanwhile, movement between municipalities in the western Slovenian regions with a favourable epidemiological situation will no longer be possible after Christmas.
Pahor thanks soldiers for promoting Slovenia abroad
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor addressed Slovenian soldiers serving in international operations and missions via videolink, thanking them for their contribution in promoting Slovenia internationally. He wished them to continue to successfully tackle the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the supreme commander, Pahor was briefed by the commanders of the Slovenian contingents in North Macedonia, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Serbia, Italy and Mali, which combined feature around 370 soldiers.
Parliamentary speaker says no-confidence vote could be scheduled for early January
LJUBLJANA - Following the announcement by Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) head Karl Erjavec that the opposition would file a no-confidence vote in the government before the end of the year, Speaker Igor Zorčič said that in this case, the National Assembly would most likely be taking the vote in the first week of January. Under the National Assembly's rules, MPs can take a no-confidence vote 48 hours after such a proposal was filed at the earliest or seven days after at the latest.
Govt adopts positions on draft EU migration directives
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted positions on several draft EU directives on migrations and asylum. The Government Communication Office (UKOM) said Slovenia supports the directive on the asylum fund and changes envisaged in the procedure of ascertaining the member state responsible for individual international protection applications. Slovenia also believes that migration solidarity among member states should not be obligatory under normal circumstances, only in times of crisis.
Top court decrees reopening of special needs schools
LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court stayed the implementation of the decree prohibiting gatherings in educational institutions which implement programmes for children with special needs. It ordered the government to make it possible for such programmes to resume in-person from 4 January. This does not mean, though, that schools and institutions for children with special needs have to provide the same scope of services as they had before the Covid-19 epidemic or that all of them open.
Tonin stresses successful cooperation with Montenegrin counterpart
LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin met his newly-appointed Montenegrin counterpart Olivera Injac via videoconference. Tonin said that the meeting, held so soon after Injac assumed office, was a sign of successful cooperation between Slovenia and Montenegro in defence, security and military matters that bodes well for the future. The pair highlighted certain new areas for regional or wider cooperation, and decided to meet on an official visit next year, the epidemiological situation permitting.
Official warns against overworked Constitutional Court
LJUBLJANA - As Slovenia celebrates Constitution Day, in memory of the constitution passed in 1991, Constitutional Court president Rajko Knez told the STA in an interview the court had been affected by the coronavirus epidemic in terms of caseload. He warned against overburdening the court with additional tasks in general as this may weaken the institution. The court received more than 130 appeals to review the government's decrees on coronavirus restrictions and relief measures.
Government proposes much lower fines for speeding
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted changes to the road traffic rules act that significantly lower fines for speeding, making them comparable at the EU level. Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said more effort should be invested in prevention and control than fines. Those exceeding the 50 km/h limit by 10-20 km/h would earn a EUR 120 fine plus three penalty points, instead of the current fine of EUR 250 plus three penalty points. The fine for using one's mobile phone while driving would however increase, from EUR 120 to EUR 250.
National Review Commission rejects Chinese complaints over railway project
LJUBLJANA - The National Review Commission has rejected as ungrounded the demands for a review of a selection procedure for main construction works on the Divača-Koper rail track in which four Chinese bidders were eliminated from the competition. The bidders that remain in the bidding process have now until 1 February 2021 to submit their bids.
Suspected attacker on police, journalists at 5 Nov protests apprehended
LJUBLJANA - The police have apprehended a 26-year-old man from Maribor suspected of attacking two police officers, two reporters and a photo journalist during the violent protest in Ljubljana on 5 November. The suspect was brought today before an investigative magistrate, who remanded him in custody. Ljubljana Police Department head Stanislav Vrečar said the search of the suspect's home produced items that could serve as proof of the attack, but also illicit drugs. The Maribor-based newspaper Večer reported Tuesday that the suspect had already admitted to the police that he was the one who had attacked the police officers and journalists.
Police to take part in EU missions in Ukraine, Georgia
LJUBLJANA - The government decided that up to five Slovenian police officers will take part in each of the EU's missions in Ukraine and in Georgia, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) said. The EU's advisory mission in Ukraine aims at helping the authorities to reform the country's civilian security sector, whereas the monitoring mission in Georgia is to make sure hostilities among the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia do not repeat. UKOM said that as a credible EU member state, Slovenia was aware of security challenges and threats coming from crisis areas.
Other police trade union not joining announced strike
LJUBLJANA - While agreeing with some of the demands by the fellow Police Trade Union of Slovenia (PSS), the other police trade union in the country said it would not join the strike announced by the PSS for 11 January. The Trade Union of Police Officers (SPS) believes the strike is not appropriate in the current situation. Representatives of both unions met with Interior Ministry State Secretary Franc Kangler, after which the ministry said the sides shared the view all open issues could be resolved soon after New Year's through dialogue and with consensus.
Govt confirms annual plan for managing state assets
LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed the 2021 plan for the managing of capital investments put forward by Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH). The custodian of state assets expects 4.2% return on equity, which is up 0.8 percentage points from what is expected this year. Dividends should remain level. The adoption of the annual plan is crucial for SSH's activities and meeting of its targets in 2021.
Slovenia to get highway patrol unit in 2021
LJUBLJANA - A highway patrol unit is to be established in Slovenia at the beginning of next year in a bid to boost the enforcement of traffic rules and improve safety on the Slovenian motorway network. It is expected to eventually assume other duties as well, including the prevention of crime and illegal migration. The relevant agreement was signed by the interior and infrastructure ministers, the acting police commissioner and the chairman of the national motorway company DARS.
Upper chamber vetoes special tax treatment of shipping companies
LJUBLJANA - The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, unanimously vetoed changes to the tonnage tax act which extend by another ten years a special regulation under which shipping companies pay an alternative form of corporate income tax. This means the National Assembly will have to vote on the bill again, with 46 votes needed. A similar bill was passed in December 2019, but it was vetoed by the upper chamber in January, with the lower chamber failing to overturn the veto.
Consumers bit more confident as year ends
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumer confidence has improved somewhat this month after three consecutive months of decline. However, the respective indicator is still 19 percentage points down year-on-year with data from the Statistics Office showing Slovenian consumers have not been as pessimistic as this year since 2013. The consumer confidence index in December improved by four percentage points from the month before.
Housing real estate market slightly up, statistics show
LJUBLJANA - Housing real estate prices in Slovenia were 0.1% higher in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the second, data from the Statistics Office show. Sales figures show a high demand for second-hand properties, while demand for new real estate is far weaker. The average price of new housing real estate, which includes flats and houses, dropped by 4.4% in the third quarter over the one before. Prices of new flats dropped by 4.5% on average and prices of houses by 3.1%.
Museum of Contemporary History gets new boss
LJUBLJANA - Historian Jože Dežman has been appointed director of Slovenia's Museum of Contemporary History. He will take over on 1 February 2021 for five years, the newspaper Delo reported on Wednesday. Dežman, who is also the chair of the government commission for concealed mass graves, led the museum before, between 2005 and 2010. Now he will suceed Kaja Širok as her second term at the helm of the museum expires.
Slovenia among countries faring best in Creative Europe
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is one of the European countries that did best in Creative Europe open calls in the 2014-2020 period. According to 2014-2019 data, the country ranks ninth among 41 eligible countries in the Creative Europe sub-programme Culture. When it comes to the number of approved projects, it ranks fifth. Moreover, Ljubljana ranked second among European capitals of culture, according to both the total of approved projects and the volume of EU funds.
Civil Protection boss declared Val 202's person of the year
LJUBLJANA - National public radio station Val 202 declared Srečko Šestan, the commander of Civil Protection, its person of the year. He was picked by the finalists selected by Val 202 listeners. Šestan, who daily coordinates the work of more then 1,000 members of Civil Protection who are helping to fight the epidemic, and was the person of the month in June, thanked the listeners who voted for him. "By voting for me, they have voted for all those who are working and helping in this crazy situation."
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STA, 23 December 2020 - Public transportation will continue to run during the festive season until the end of the year, even if it was initially relaxed only for the period between 15 and 23 December.
Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said on Wednesday that trains and buses would run until further notice, but each vehicle could be filled only up to half capacity.
He reiterated the call to observe all precautionary measures, including wearing face masks and keeping safety distance.
"Let's stick to the measures so that public transportation can remain open."
The government also decided on Wednesday evening that ski gondolas, which are classified as public transport in Slovenia, will begin operating on 1 January, under the condition that the operator organises fast antigen testing.
They will be open to anybody who produces a negative Covid-19 test performed in Slovenia and no older than 24 hours, and to children up to the age of 12 accompanied by their parents.
Other services that were relaxed until today will no longer be available as of tomorrow, such as hair salons, flower shops, car washes and dry cleaners.
In few regions with the best epidemiological situation, footwear, apparel and sports equipment shops as well as car dealerships have also been open until today.
In these regions, it has also been permitted to cross municipal boundaries with an activated exposure notification app. However, the government decided late on Wednesday to remove as of 25 December the use of the app from the list of exemptions that allowed movement across municipal borders.