News

11 Apr 2020, 04:15 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 sees EU fiscal package as step in right direction

LJUBLJANA - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj hailed the agreement reached by EU finance ministers on a fiscal package to combat the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic as a "a step in the right direction". "We have a few new instruments, now let's focus on the recovery. We've laid out a sober, responsible, rapid but also ambitious and prudent path to recovery," he said. His comments come after EU finance ministers agreed a EUR 500 billion package of short-term measures to mitigate the economic consequences of coronavirus. Slovenia will be eligible for roughly EUR 900 million in loans from the European Stability Mechanism and another EUR 900 million under a new mechanism called SURE.

Slovenia successful in tackling coronavirus but acute phase not over yet

LJUBLJANA - Bojana Beović, an infectious disease specialist, told Mladina that Slovenia was yet to exit the acute phase of the coronavirus epidemic. However, the Italian scenario is very unlikely to unfold as hospitals have admitted much fewer Covid-19 patients than had been projected. In the next phase the younger population should be allowed to get infected under controlled conditions to gain herd immunity. Slovenia plans to shortly start examining the presence of antibodies which show that a person has recovered from the infection, she said. Slovenia recorded two more Covid-19 fatalities on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 45. The number of infected persons rose by 36 to 1,160.

Pahor deems explanation by PM and FM key for CoE media freedom affair

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor commented on the dispatch sent by Slovenia to the Council of Europe (CoE) in response to a warning about pressure on the media in the country by saying it made sense to wait for an official explanation by the prime minister and foreign minister to see if the letter's content was in fact Slovenia's official position. The letter will be discussed by parliament's foreign policy and culture committees on Tuesday, along with a perceived U-turn in Slovenia's foreign policy. The session was called by the four opposition parties.

Foreign minister and apostolic nuncio discuss cooperation

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar met with Apostolic Nuncio Jean-Marie Speich to review cooperation between Slovenia and the Holy See. They agreed bilateral relations should be deepened. Logar pointed to the importance of spiritual care in the time of the coronavirus pandemic and added that Slovenia appreciated the role of the Holy See in the international community in promoting peace, dialogue and understanding between nations.

Public health insurer says state will have to chip in

LJUBLJANA - The public health insurer ZZZS expects the coronavirus crisis to slash its revenue by around EUR 215 million this year, while higher expenditure is expected on top of that, to the tune of EUR 30 million due to higher sick leave costs alone. The impact of a deferral of health insurance contributions to help businesses is estimated at EUR 200 million. It has urged the government to cover the shortfall. "This is a substantial amount for the healthcare budget. The deferred contributions help the economy but they hurt healthcare," ZZZS director general Marjan Sušelj told the STA.

Large shipment of protective equipment delivered

BRNIK - More than twenty tonnes of protective equipment, including face masks for medical staff, was delivered from China to the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, one of the largest such shipments since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The 1.1 million FFP2-type masks, which are crucial for frontline staff, along with almost 16,000 protective uniforms for doctors and 1.7 million gloves, was delivered from Chengdu aboard an Airbus A330.

Suspected restriction violation reports totalling 900 so far

LJUBLJANA - The Health Inspectorate said it had so far processed some 900 cases of suspected violations of lockdown restrictions, issuing a total of 128 fines worth more than EUR 9,000. Some 1,500 cases of suspected violations have been referred to the health inspection service by the police. Out of the 128 issued fines, the highest one (EUR 417) has been issued nine times. Fines will increase on Saturday to EUR 4,000 - EUR 100,000 for legal persons and EUR 400 - EUR 4,000 for individuals.

Lawyers want court work resumed, Supreme Court reluctant

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Bar Association has recently appealed to the Supreme Court and Justice Ministry to resume normal operations where possible despite the coronavirus epidemic. Otherwise, Slovenia would be faced with a collapse of the rule of law, warned the association. The Supreme Court is hesitant about heeding the bar's proposal though, highlighting that the emergency measures are valid until further notice, with court restrictions valid until 1 July at the latest.

Older shoppers now ID'd at store entrance

LJUBLJANA - A new regulation entered into force requiring consumers above the age of 65 will need to prove their age with an identity card to enter grocery shops during dedicated opening hours. The government has decreed special shopping hours for vulnerable groups to protect them against coronavirus infection between 8am and 10am and an hour before the shops close. The special opening hours apply exclusively to those above the age of 65, the disabled and pregnant women.

Survey shows high level of trust in conventional media

LJUBLJANA - A survey conducted by Mediana showed most Slovenians trust conventional media, meaning TV, radio and printed media reports, during the coronavirus epidemic. More than half the respondents (51%) said they trusted or fully trusted TV reports, while 8% said they did not trust them at all. The shares for radio reports were 48% and 8% respectively, and for printed media 40% and 7%. The level of trust in online news portals was much lower, at 25%, standing at only 4% for social media.

Damages claims by former CEO against port operator rejected

LJUBLJANA - The Koper District Court rejected a claim by Gašpar Gašpar Mišič, the former chief executive of port operator Luka Koper, who sought in excess of EUR 750,000 for wrongful dismissal plus reinstatement to the post. Gašpar Mišič, who ran Luka Koper between September 2013 and April 2014, had sought damages based on a 2019 decision by the Supreme Court, which found he was wrongfully dismissed.

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

10 Apr 2020, 21:00 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

We can’t have pictures of COVID-19 every day. So instead we’ll try and show the works of Slovenian artists. Today it’s Xenia Guzej. You can see more of her work here.

Contents

Two new fatalities bring coronavirus death toll to 45

Slovenia successful in tackling coronavirus but acute phase not over yet

Survey shows high level of trust in conventional media during epidemic

Large shipment of protective equipment delivered

Two new fatalities bring coronavirus death toll to 45

STA, 10 April 2020 - Slovenia recorded two more Covid-19 fatalities on Thursday, bringing the death toll of the coronavirus epidemic to 45. The number of infected persons rose by 36 to 1,160, show the latest government data released on Friday.

The number of Covid-19 patients who require hospitalisation dropped slightly to 106, of whom 36 were in intensive care, two more than on Wednesday.

Nine were discharged from hospital, for a total of 137 persons who no longer require hospital treatment.

Slovenia has so far performed over 33,000 covid-19 tests.

Back to the contents

Slovenia successful in tackling coronavirus but acute phase not over yet

STA, 10 April 2020 - Bojana Beović, an infectious disease specialist, has told the weekly Mladina that Slovenia was yet to exit the acute phase of the coronavirus epidemic. However, the Italian scenario is very unlikely to unfold as hospitals have admitted much fewer Covid-19 patients than had been projected.

Beović, who heads the Health Ministry's medical task force for coronavirus, said that the effectiveness of the latest preventive measures would be clear after this weekend, and "only after that can we talk about an exit strategy."

Slovenia has "caught the last train in preventing an exponential growth of infections" and the number of severely ill patients in Slovenia will apparently not exceed the capacity of the country's healthcare system.

Beović also said at a press conference today that, considering that the daily number of new infections was dropping, the epidemic had probably reached its peak, but that more would be known after the Easter holidays.

She called on people to refrain from contacts for another week or two, noting that the epidemic wave ended only when an infected person passes the infection to under one person on average.

Beović proposed in the Mladina interview that, in the next phase, the younger population should be allowed to get infected under controlled conditions to gain herd immunity. But she stressed that it would be hard to contain the spread of the virus between generations.

"The risk of doing something like this is too high at the moment. It is true, though, that in the long run, while a vaccine is not yet available, such tactics should be chosen."

Beović was also asked about this at the press conference, saying that if a vaccine or effective medication was not available soon, this was the only option, which would actually be implemented once kindergartens and schools reopen.

Slovenia plans to shortly start examining the presence of antibodies which show that a person has recovered from the infection. But the epidemic needs to last longer for such research to produce quality results, and it would be good to also have a quality test for antibodies, Beović told Mladina.

As for the criticism in the public about the perceived excessiveness of the measures and pessimism of the government, she said that "it is better to stay on the side of caution" and that the trend should first turn downwards before one could speak about optimism.

Beović noted that there were no official guidelines for the treatment of Covid-19 because of the lack of reliable data, while there were some reports about successful application of blood plasma of persons who had developed antibodies.

She personally expects the most from the antiviral drug remdesivir. "If this does not prove to be effective, we can say that we will remain in the dark."

The epidemic has exposed care in nursing homes as the biggest shortcoming in the healthcare system, as these are equipped more like hotels, while what their residents need is something like a nursing hospital.

She also stressed that it was important to restart the healthcare system, "otherwise it will not be possible to eliminate all the backlog in examinations and surgeries in the foreseeable future."

Back to the contents

Survey shows high level of trust in conventional media during epidemic

STA, 10 April 2020 - Slovenians mostly have no issues trusting conventional media, meaning TV, radio and printed media reports, during the coronavirus epidemic, shows a survey released on Friday by pollster Mediana.

More than half the respondents (51%) said they trust or fully trust TV reports, while 8% said they do not trust them at all. The shares for radio reports were 48% and 8% respectively, and for printed media 40% and 7%.

A lower level of trust was recorded for online news portals, which also had the highest share of undecided respondents. Trust or full trust was expressed by 25% and no trust at all by 30%.

There is even more scepticism towards social media, where the share of those fully trusting the reports was 4% and of those not trusting them at all 44%.

The survey was carried out between 3 and 5 April through online polling. It involved 703 respondents aged 15 to 75.

Back to the contents

Large shipment of protective equipment delivered

STA, 10 April 2020 - More than twenty tonnes of protective equipment, including face masks for medical staff, was delivered from China to the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport on Friday morning, one of the largest such shipments since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

The 1.1 million FFP2-type masks, which are crucial for frontline staff, along with almost 16,000 protective uniforms for doctors and 1.7 million gloves was delivered from Chengdu aboard an Airbus A330.

The equipment was ordered by the Agency for Commodity Reserves via Public Digital Infrastructure, a company owned by gaming millionaire Joc Pečečnik, and is part of a large, EUR 30 million-plus order the company has received.

Prime Minister Janez Janša, sharing photos from the airport on Twitter, said that "the holidays will be calmer" now.

Late in the evening, another seven tonnes of protective equipment will arrive at Ljubljana airport from Qingdao, China, the Foreign Ministry said, adding that this will be the first of several special transport flights organised by the Agency for Commodity Reserves.

The plane will bring more than 1.1 million of protective face masks and other types of protective equipment donated by Chinese cities twinned with Slovenian cities, Slovenian and Chinese companies, the Association of Chinese Businesses in Slovenia, the Chinese Olympic Committee, the Slovenian community in China and a number of individuals.

The Foreign Ministry thanked those involved for their donations, adding that the plane will also carry protective equipment Slovenia bought in China.

Back to the contents

 

10 Apr 2020, 20:39 PM

Do foreigners in Slovenia feel more or less safe sitting out covid-19 here than in their home country, and what are their experiences? All the stories in this series are here. If you' like to contribute, see here or at the end of the story

Who are you, and how did you come to be here?

Hi, my name is Mark Evans and I'm an Australian immigrant to Slovenia, originally from our capital city of Canberra. My husband is a Slovene living and working in Ljubljana, and I moved here to live with him back in April, 2018 after completing my BA in European politics and public policy. I'm currently working part time while searching for full-time work in my field (difficult to find without citizenship, sadly!). I'm also mulling over applying for an MA.

Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

Well, we're alive, healthy and mostly sane, which is luckier than many. We live in a multistory apartment building and this last month has left me extremely envious of anyone with a proper balcony or a garden. With the incredible weather I'd love to be out cycling far more than I am, and I'm envious of my family back home in Canberra, who have far more space and easy access to wilderness areas which they can enjoy safely. My husband and I share our apartment building with many retirees, so we're worried about the risk of bringing the virus back home with us and endangering the health of our older neighbours.

Mark Evans Slovenia Australia (3).jpg

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business?

My husband was right in the middle of changing jobs as this crisis struck, and we're incredibly fortunate that his work life hasn't been too severely disrupted by the pandemic because he can work remotely - many don't have this privilege. While the government's measures are rock solid in supporting formal employees, they fall short for the people who need support the most - already marginalised members of society working in low paying, informal jobs, like migrant workers.

When did you realise that coronavirus was going to be a big issue?

I didn't pay much attention to the crisis in China, and only started to follow it after the outbreak in South Korea. With a background in public policy I was paying more attention to the news than many, but even then I under-estimated the severity of the threat. I was well aware of the enormous amount of work which governments and non-governmental organisations had poured into pandemic preparedness since SARS in 2002-3. I hadn't realised how far these measures had eroded since 2016, or how little attention our governments would pay to experts until it was too late.

Mark Evans Slovenia Australia (2).jpg

What is your impression of the way Slovenia is dealing with the crisis?

My feelings on the Slovene handling of the crisis are mixed. In the short-term, the current administration has been successful in controlling the epidemic, and taken the difficult decision to lock the country down in a timely manner. However, this is coming hand-in-hand with naked power-grabbing by Janez Janša and his allies, as they use the crisis as an excuse to replace qualified public servants with yes-men, to threaten dissenters and to stifle the media. While I do not feel endangered by Covid19 here in Slovenia, I am extremely worried about the path this administration will take in the aftermath of the pandemic. If it follows in the footsteps of Janša's allies in Hungary, I suspect these power-grabs will only intensify. And if Hungary's recent attacks on democracy and the rights of LGBT+ citizens are any evidence, I am deeply worried that SDS will soon be turning its sights on the rights of couples like me and my husband. I am, after all, the kind of gay immigrant "degenerate leftist" Demokracija magazine warns its readers about.

How does that compare to the situation in Australia?

Australia's approach to the pandemic has contrasted strongly to Slovenia's - where I am comfortable in the short term in Slovenia but worried about the long term, I feel the opposite for Australia. Our government was far slower than Slovenia to act - we had weeks of extra time before the outbreak really started, but were very slow to take it seriously. As a result, an epidemic arose and thousands of Australians have now been infected, while dozens are already dead. However, once the federal government finally did act, it brought together a coordinated cabinet of state and territory governments from both sides of politics to organise a unified and de-politicised response. Its handling has definitely not been perfect, but the government has shown remarkable cooperation with opposition parties, and has made hard decisions for the public good which I never would have expected it would step up to make.

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

Communications in Australia followed the same trajectory as its policy response - slow, confused and conflicted at first, and wasting many weeks. As the epidemic picked up speed our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, infamously declared he'd still be going to watch the rugby in a packed stadium. However, once the scale of the impending catastrophe became undeniable, the government got its act together and put together a responsible and effective communication campaign which has finally convinced the public of the danger.

Here in Slovenia I've observed very different communications from the civil service versus the government itself, and the disconnect worries me. Civil services and businesses largely seem to have responded quickly and capably, and the messaging I see coming from the public sector is encouraging. Much of what I see from the government itself is, however, appalling. It is extremely alarming to see the Prime Minister falsely blaming the WHO for the pandemic on Twitter while his administration abuses the crisis to slander and harass its opponents in the media. A government using its emergency powers to scapegoat "global elites" in the face of all evidence and defame its critics as "escaped mental patients" is something you'd expect from a tinpot dictatorship, not a democratic EU member state. If this behaviour continues - and I expect it will, given SDS' long history of promoting falsehoods and slandering critics - then I am extremely worried about the damage it will do to public trust in government institutions and communications.

Mark Evans Slovenia Australia (1).jpg

What's the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation?

A working exercise machine! We have an elliptical here at home, but it's broken. I'm an avid cyclist and I'd kill for a good bike machine to have at home, since I can't really get out for rides right now. I'm getting by on at-home workouts but it would be wonderful to have the feeling of motion again.

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis.

If I didn't know for sure that I was an extrovert before this crisis began, I certainly do now. I miss being able to get out and about in crowds, and I miss being able to see my friends face to face. I think many other people are learning this about themselves too - even if you don't consider yourself a very social person, there are all those little day to day human interactions we rely upon and take for granted. The world can feel like a very lonely place now that they're gone.

If you’d like to contribute to this series please answer the following questions and include a paragraph about yourself and where you’re from, and a link to your website if you would like. Please also send 3-4 photos minimum (including at least one of yourself) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Subject: Corona Foreigner.

Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business? (PLEASE IGNORE IF THIS DOES NOT AFFECT YOU)

When did you realise that coronavirus was going to be a big issue?

What is your impression of the way Slovenia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Slovenia doing better/worse?

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

What's the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation?

What's one thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis?

10 Apr 2020, 13:32 PM

What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 3 April
        LJUBLJANA - The government started discussing guidelines for a second fiscal stimulus package. It will focus on correcting any flaws in the first package, worth EUR 3 billion, and measures to boost the economy's liquidity.
        LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry announced that the rotations of contingents of the Slovenian Armed Forces in international operations and missions planned in the next three months would not be carried out due to the coronavirus pandemic. The contingents which are currently abroad will need to extend their service for three months.
        LJUBLJANA - The government restricted the usage of drugs containing chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine or azithromycin to make sure enough of those substances are available to patients who need them.
        LJUBLJANA - Florist shops and nurseries reopened, with the government explaining that spring is a peak selling time for these businesses.
        DOBROVNIK - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec hailed a decision by orchids grower Ocean Orchids to also start growing vegetables as a case of rapid adaptation. She announced government measures to facilitate this.
        LJUBLJANA - The chair of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, Matjaž Nemec, expressed surprise because Slovenia failed to join a group of EU countries that have expressed concern about the risk of violations of the rule of law by measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. On Monday, Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič expressed support for the statement.
        SKOPJE, Macedonia - Slovenia donated to North Macedonia protective equipment worth EUR 110,000 to help the country fight the novel coronavirus.
        LJUBLJANA - Individuals and businesses donated over EUR 58,800 as they responded to the Finance Ministry's call to raise funds for Covid-19 relief. The donations went into the "budgetary reserve" and the government will report to parliament on the use on a monthly basis.
        LJUBLJANA - The coronavirus crisis started to take a toll on the unemployment situation in Slovenia and what had been a favourable trend until recently was reversed. The number of people registered as unemployed grew by 0.5% to 77,855 in March compared to February.
        LJUBLJANA - Thirty members of the Slovenian chapter of PEN International called on the Slovenian authorities to respect all citizens' rights guaranteed by law and constitution as measures to contain the coronavirus epidemic are being introduced.

SATURDAY, 4 April
        LJUBLJANA - All persons arriving in Slovenia from abroad now face a 14-day quarantine. They will be quarantined at home if possible and if not, they will be placed at facilities.
        LJUBLJANA - The bonuses for vital public sector staff envisaged by the government mega stimulus bill will be fully covered by the state, Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik said.
        LJUBLJANA - Police were checking compliance with movement restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus across the country, detecting no major violations.
        LJUBLJANA/KOPER - Due to the coronavirus epidemic, Ljubljana airport recorded a 20% drop in the amount of cargo transported in March. This was mostly the cargo transported in passenger planes, the airport operator Fraport Slovenija said.

SUNDAY, 5 April
        LJUBLJANA - Coronavirus death toll in Slovenia rose to 30 as infections topped 1,000.
        LJUBLJANA - Government spokesman Jelko Kacin announced that stringent lockdown restrictions introduced to fight the coronavirus epidemic would remain in place at least two to four more weeks.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša rebuffed critics who have accused the government of sidelining public health professionals. He said the government had listened to a broader circle of experts beyond the domestic National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

MONDAY, 6 April
        LJUBLJANA - The government said it was preparing measures to enable some industries to relaunch operations immediately after the Easter holidays if the current trend in the number of persons diagnosed with Covid-19 continues.
        LJUBLJANA - The Agency for Commodity Reserves delivered 66 mechanical ventilators to hospitals, as well as 1.83 million three-layer face masks and over 401,000 FFP2 masks the week before.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard met to mark the Slovenian-American Friendship and Alliance Day.
        LJUBLJANA - The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference recalled the first free multi-party elections in Slovenia 30 years ago likening the situation at the time to the coronavirus crisis in which the bishops see "our civic duty, responsibility" put to test again.
        NOVO MESTO/BEGUNJE/ŽIRI - Several Slovenian companies, including Adria Mobil, Alpina and Elan, announced they would shortly relaunch production after suspending or scaling it down amid the coronavirus epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian agriculture organisations raised concern about "huge" damage to business due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, urging the government to take a series of measures, including curbs on meat imports and increased purchase of produce for national commodity reserves.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian lawyer and UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin told sport newspaper EkipaSN in an interview he believed Slovenian authorities should express a bit more optimistic view of the situation as the country is fighting the coronavirus epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - An OECD report found Slovenia to be one of the most transparent OECD countries in the field of public procurement, yet it recommended it to open up its public procurement procedures to more experimentation and innovative methods.
        KRANJ - A dystopian play by Tjaša Mislej about four workers working and living in a giant warehouse won this year's Slavko Grum Prize for best new Slovenian play.
        HOLMEC - The Holmec border crossing was partly reopened after Austria closed it as part of restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus.

TUESDAY, 7 April
        LJUBLJANA - More than five years after deciding the state must provide equal funding for public and private primary schools, the Constitutional Court specified that this applies only to the mandatory part of school curricula at private schools but not to non-mandatory curricula, such as morning and afternoon care, or remedial tutoring.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly voted with the needed two-thirds majority in favour of changes to the rules of procedure that allow it to hold sessions and vote remotely in exceptional circumstances such as the coronavirus epidemic or natural disaster.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislative changes that will shorten the period for laws, which cannot be challenged in referenda, to take effect. The changes are expected to speed up the implementation of laws designed to alleviate consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic by 8 days.
        LJUBLJANA - The business newspaper Finance reported, referring to Bloomberg, that the Slovenian state had borrowed another EUR 2.25 billion by carrying out a new 10-year bond issue and expanding the amounts of the previous two bond issues.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council endorsed the measures taken by the government to contain the coronavirus epidemic and mitigate its consequences. For the most part the measures are in agreement with recommendations by international organisations and comparable in scope to measures taken by other countries. However, in the future the measures must be more targeted, simple and limited in duration.
        LJUBLJANA - Administered fuel prices in Slovenia dropped to eleven-year lows despite the government increasing excise duties the day before. Regular and diesel sold at service stations outside the motorway network dropped to euro per litre. The last time regular cost less than a euro was in April 2009 and diesel in May 2009.
        MARIBOR - Pošta Slovenije generated EUR 262.7 million in revenue last year, EUR 12 million more than the year before. While failing to disclose the profit figure, the company said it was substantially below projections. The main reason for the lower-than-expected profitability is a pay deal the company had struck with trade unions.

WEDNESDAY, 8 April
        LJUBLJANA - Hospital data indicated the novel coronavirus epidemic is stabilising, with hospitalisations and intensive care cases flat. A total of 108 persons were in hospital, of whom 34 in intensive care. So far 128 persons have been discharged from hospital.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor discussed efforts to overcome the coronavirus pandemic with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella. The presidents underlined the importance of solidarity and cooperation among nations, and expressed regret at the EU's inability to respond earlier and more effectively. They expressed support for the measures adopted by the governments of their respective countries.
        LJUBLJANA - Medical Chamber head Zdenka Čebašek-Travnik urged the government to use all medical staff, including private doctors and dentists, to restart the country's healthcare when it begins to gradually exit the coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - The central bank suspended for a year the payout of dividends by banks and savings banks. The measure is aimed at securing sufficient capital so that the system could better sustain potential losses and be able to supply the economy and individuals with loans.
        LJUBLJANA/STRASBOURG, France - Responding to criticism coming from the Council of Europe over pressure on the media in Slovenia, the government argued the situation was a result of media having "their origin in the former communist regime". The dispatch was criticised the next day by the Journalists' Association and the opposition, while coalition partners distanced themselves from it.
        LJUBLJANA - Vojko Urbas was appointed acting director of the Criminal Police Department and took over from his predecessor Boštjan Lindav. He was appointed by acting Police Commissioner Anton Travner, who has led the force since the Janez Janša government was appointed in mid-March.
        LJUBLJANA - The top leaders of major religious groups in Slovenia called on believers to stay home, pray and peruse religious texts as they addressed the daily government coronavirus press briefing.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Roma warned about tenacious discrimination and their communities struggling in the face of the coronavirus crisis as they observed International Roma Day.

THURSDAY, 9 April
        LJUBLJANA - The government's coronavirus spokesperson Jelko Kacin rejected interpretations Slovenia had decided to freeze membership payments to the World Health Organisation given that PM Janez Janša said everybody would need to follow the example of the US in taking this step.
        LJUBLJANA - Unofficial data from the Employment Service showed the registered unemployment total rising by 4,922 in the first eight days of April, jumping by 1,030 on 8 April alone.
        LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry said that Slovenia will ask for international assistance via NATO's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre in securing transport for protective gear and other supplies to ensure there is enough equipment to battle the coronavirus epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša exchanged information on the current coronavirus situation with Friuli Venezia Giulia President Massimiliano Fedriga via videoconference.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's trade in goods continued to grow in February, the month before Slovenia introduced strict lockdown measures amid the coronavirus epidemic. Exports grew by 11.7% and imports by 5.9% over February 2019, data by the Statistics Office showed.
        NOVO MESTO - The supervisory and management boards of Krka proposed the shareholders of the drug maker be paid dividends of EUR 4.25 gross per share. Not only is the proposed payout almost a third higher than in 2019, Krka is actually one of few listed companies whose shareholders may get dividends this year.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of five Slovenian MEPs led by Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD) called on the government to join EU countries helping and taking in unaccompanied refugee children stranded on Greek islands.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to allow non-urgent health services to resume under certain conditions after these have been suspended in the efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic in the country.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenians are increasingly optimistic regarding the situation around the coronavirus epidemic, showed the latest survey by Valicon, as a vast majority of respondents believes that things are turning for the better.

All our posts in this series are here

10 Apr 2020, 11:23 AM

Contents

Govt points to ex regime in response to CoE criticism of pressure on media in Slovenia

SDS under fire following dispatch about communist origins of Slovenian media

MEPs defend freedom of press, disagree over communist media dispatch

Govt points to ex regime in response to CoE criticism of pressure on media in Slovenia

STA, 8 April 2020 - Responding to criticism coming from the Council of Europe (CoE) over pressure on the media in Slovenia, the government has argued the situation is a result of Slovenian media having "their origin in the former communist regime".

While the CoE has been highlighting pressure on media occurring under the new government and named the state as the "source of the threat", the government wrote that it welcomes that the CoE Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists is taking a stronger interest in the media situation in Slovenia.

It added that the CoE's attention should be drawn to the broader context of the media situation in the country, including historical facts in the development of the media market.

"The majority of the main media in Slovenia have their origins in the former communist regime, and even in the late 1990s the positions of editors-in-chief were held by the former members of the infamous security service UDBA," says the letter accessible on the website of the CoE Platform.

Sent to the CoE by Slovenia's Permanent Representation to the CoE on Tuesday, the letter also says that up until 2004 the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija had been run directly by "former communist structures".

The letter says that "more or less all attempts to create new media that would not be based on the legacy of of the totalitarian past have failed" because new media had not received money from advertising. One of the few media that survived was Catholic Radio Ognjišče, surviving above all because listeners supported it with their contributions.

The situation changed partly only in the period between 2004 and 2008, "when for the first time the parties originating in the former regime lost the authority for four years", the letter says of the period when Janez Janša was prime minister for the first time.

"During this period, the law governing the operations of RTV Slovenija also changed with a view to promoting greater plurality of the media space. As a result, in some media that in one way or another are financed by all citizens, individuals who were not connected with the former totalitarian party also took on leading roles."

However, already in 2008, when the Borut Pahor government took over, there was "tremendous persecution of all editors and journalists who were not part of the former regime's network," the letter says, referring to editor dismissals at the STA and RTV Slovenija, and saying that similar actions had been taken in some private media.

The letter also says that media in Slovenia had during this time undergone ownership consolidation. "With the consent of left governments, the majority of the main media have been sold to individuals who are known to the general as Slovenian tycoons, many were also members of Forum 21," an outfit established by former President Milan Kučan.

"Journalists themselves also contributed to their increasingly poorer public image. Jumps from journalism to politics are, unfortunately, too common for the public to fully trust the integrity of journalists," the letter says, naming here MEPs Tanja Fajon and Irena Joveva.

"There are not isolated cases of political rewards for journalists who appeared in public as the greatest fighters among journalists against parties that did not arise from the network of the former regime," the letter says, naming Rok Praprotnik and Dejan Karba.

The government expresses satisfaction in the letter that Slovenia had finally become the subject of international interest in terms of freedom of the press and the general state of the media in the country, saying that "warnings of the unbearable situation of the Slovenian national broadcaster should also be taken seriously".

It says that initiatives for a more rational spending of public funds are being misinterpreted. "While many media companies are struggling to survive... RTV Slovenija has hired an additional 400 people in the last 10 years alone, bringing the total number of the institution's employees to approximately 2,300."

The letter was sent to the CoE, after the latter issued an alert in response to Janša's tweet on 20 March. Janša tweeted "Don't spread lies, @InfoTVSLO. We pay you to keep us informed in these times, not to mislead the public. Apparently there are too many of you and you are paid to well."

Janša tweeted this after TV Slovenija aired an interview with a trade unionist who criticised the government's decision to raise the salaries of ministers and state secretaries.

Janša's tweet was criticised also by the Journalists' Association (DNS), the Journalists' Trade Union and the leadership of RTV Slovenija. The union and the DNS interpreted the tweet as a threat to RTV Slovenija employees about possible loss of employment or other repressive measures that may befall them unless they report in a way that suits the government.

This was the second alert by the CoE Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists issued to Slovenia in the past two weeks. On 27 March, the Platform said that investigative journalist Blaž Zgaga had received death threats from far right groups.

In response to that alert, the government said it "strongly rejects and condemns the case of alleged harassment... At the moment, we have no conclusive evidence as to how this event came about."

Zgaga was also mentioned in the letter sent to the CoE on 7 April, which said that his credibility was destroyed when claims of Janša's involvement in the Patria defence scandal were proven false.

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SDS under fire following dispatch about communist origins of Slovenian media

STA, 9 April 2020 - The senior coalition Democratic Party (SDS) has been criticised, not only by journalists and the opposition, but also by its coalition partners, after an official government dispatch to the Council of Europe's Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists claimed that all the main media stemmed from the communist regime.

The dispatch was a response to an alert issued by the Platform after Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted in late March that the public broadcaster RTV Slovenia was misleading the public, adding "apparently there are too many of you and you are paid too well".

The Journalists' Association (DNS) said that the dispatch was far from reality of Slovenia's media market, that the writing reflected the ideological position of the the SDS and was undermining Slovenia's reputation abroad.

For 30 years, Slovenia has been a democracy with a media market, which has seen various anomalies, but is nonetheless operating in a relatively normal framework, the DNS said on Thursday.

Editorial policies, as well as ownership, vary from one media outlet to the next, so to claim that all are guided by an ideological war against the SDS is "peek paranoia", which has been evident in the existing attitude of the SDS and the incumbent government toward the media and journalists, the DNS said.

The association underlined that Slovenian journalists are performing their job in line with professional and ethical standards, and on par with their colleagues in other western democracies.

"In fact, the only instances of aberration are seen in media directly or indirectly linked to the SDS, which have received substantial funding from Hungarian companies. These have been conducting degrading campaigns against anybody who does not agree with SDS politics, they have manipulated facts and spread intolerance toward anybody who is different or thinks differently," the DNS said.

It added that the government failed to understand that freedom of the press is guaranteed by law in Slovenia, that public media are not state media and that the state, albeit the founder of public media, does not have the right to play editor.

Meanwhile, the director of RTV Slovenija Igor Kadunc repeated his reaction to the initial tweet in a statement for Radio Slovenija that RTV Slovenia was operating economically.

Bojan Veselinovič, the director of the STA, also a public media outlet, meanwhile denied allegations levelled against him in the dispatch, which explicitly mentions Veselinovič firing editor-in-chief Borut Meško, who later died due to severe illness.

Coalition partners Modern Centre Party (SMC), New Slovenia (NSi) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) have distanced themselves from the letter, all of them saying that they had not been informed about the contents of the dispatch. The parties also said that they would demand to learn who authored the dispatch, sent to the CoE on 7 April.

The SMC said in its response to the STA that it only learnt about the letter from the media and that its position was clear: "any attack and pressure on the media is unacceptable."

The NSi as well said it had not been informed about the dispatch and would demand explanations "within the coalition", including about who wrote the dispatch. Similar sentiment was echoed also by DeSUS.

The opposition was also critical, with the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), the Social Democrats (SD), the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the Left calling for an emergency session of the parliamentary culture and foreign affairs committees to demand explanations from Foreign Minister Anže Logar.

The opposition parties believe the dispatch amounts to abuse of power for political purposes and an action that undermines the country's international renown.

The Left called on Logar to resign, while LMŠ MP Nik Prebil said in a statement that no government minister, least of all the foreign minister, must allow that such documents "bear a personal or party connotation".

Meanwhile, Matjaž Nemec, an MP for the SD and the chair of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said he expected Logar to explain to the committee why the dispatch could be interpreted as reinforcement of a political agenda through diplomatic networks.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry denied having drafted the dispatch. Instead, government Communications Office (UKOM) head Uroš Urbanija, told the newspaper Delo that his office had written the letter and that neither Logar nor Janša were aware of its contents.

Urbanija, a former home desk editor at the STA, former editor at RTV Slovenija, as well as Nova24TV, told the paper that the letter had been sent in a clear procedure of UKOM receiving a question from the press and responding to it without any special notification to government officials.

The ministry, while denying having written the letter, said it forwarded the explanation to the CoE in line with established diplomatic practice.

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MEPs defend freedom of press, disagree over communist media dispatch

STA, 9 April 2020 - Slovenian MEPs have expressed support for freedom of the press after an official dispatch was sent to the Council of Europe (CoE) saying that all the main Slovenian media had their origins in the Communist regime. But while MEPs from right-leaning parties expressed support for the dispatch, others labelled the writing as politically motivated.

Sent to the CoE's Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists on 7 April, the dispatch was a response to an alert issued by the Platform after Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted in late March that the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija was misleading the public, adding "apparently there are too many of you and you are paid too well".

MEPs Milan Zver and Romana Tomc, both members of the senior coalition Democratic Party (SDS) and the European People's Party (EPP) group, expressed belief that Slovenian media had not yet reached EU standards.

"Slovenian media space has been occupied above all by monochrome dominant media outlets which have been in the hands of the old (neo)Communist nomenclature since the beginning," Zver said in a statement for the STA.

"Unfortunately, political pluralism was not followed by media pluralism, one of the pillars of modern democracies," he added.

The dispatch "describes the actual state of affairs of so-called independent journalism and the so-called independent media in Slovenia," Tomc said, adding that the media space in Slovenia is completely "unbalanced".

"Therefore it would be very beneficial if relevant international institutions started more comprehensively dealing with this problem, to which we have been drawing attention for a long time," Tomc added.

Franc Bogovič of the People's Party (SLS), also a member of the EPP, said he wanted to see substantial discussions about social responsibility of the media, as well as plurality and autonomy of Slovenian media.

"Political ideas and individuals on the centre-left political spectrum get a lot more room" in the media, he said, adding that the three biggest daily newspapers are owned by persons from a certain "economic-political-media circle" which is trying to interfere with the state.

Ljudmila Novak of the New Slovenia (NSi), also a member of the EPP group, said that constructive criticism can only be of help to the authorities. She believes that Communist heritage and the influence of left-leaning political parties can still be felt in some media outlets.

"Some political parties, their leadership and membership originate in the former Communist regime. Therefore this can be felt also in some media. Unfortunately, the media under the patronage of some political parties or in their ownership are the least democratic of all."

Meanwhile, MEPs from the ranks of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Klemen Grošelj and Irena Joveva, a former journalist for the STA and commercial broadcaster POP TV, said that the dispatch amounted to politically-motivated abuse of state institutions to promote party agenda.

Social Democrat (SD) MEPs Milan Brglez and Tanja Fajon, were also critical. Fajon, also a former journalist who worked for TV Slovenija, said the dispatch was politically-motivated and disgraceful.

She said the dispatch failed to mention contentious funding from Hungary of media close to the SDS, as well as threats by Janša and his supporters to individual journalists.

Brglez meanwhile regretted that Foreign Minister Anže Logar put the interests of his party before the interests of the state. The Foreign Ministry meanwhile denied having drafted the dispatch, while the head of the government Communication Office Uroš Urbanija said the dispatch had been written by his office and that to his knowledge neither Logar nor Janša had been aware of its contents.

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10 Apr 2020, 11:07 AM

STA, 9 April 2020 - In the new reality of closed borders Slovenia like most others countries is struggling to secure what are often foreign seasonal workers in agriculture. The hop trellis construction is currently the most pressing issue and it looks like it will be resolved with two large organised transfers of Romanian workers.

According to the head of the Association of Slovenian Hop Growers Janez Oset, five buses carrying 193 Romanian workers will be brought in presumably on Saturday.

Oset, who told the STA in March that the growers needed between 800 and 1,000 seasonal workers in the spring but that only 250 of what are usually Romanian workers had arrived by then, explained the association had managed to secure a permit for the transport of the workers across Hungary.

He said face masks had been provided for all of them, while the workers also need to have special Romanian agro health insurance for a 45-day period so eventual treatment costs are covered. All will moreover need to provide a certificate they are not SARS-CoV-2 carriers.

In line with instructions from the Health Ministry, compulsory 14-day quarantine for those entering the country also applies for seasonal workers, but Oset said this was not feasible given the work needed to proceed immediately.

He is instead in favour of a quarantine regime that would involve accommodation organised by the hop growers, who would need to take the workers' temperature on a daily basis and isolate any symptomatic individuals.

"It is high time the workers from Romania, who have been working at hop farms in Slovenia for years, came and help," Oset said, arguing any additional delays would lead to the harvest being lost.

Oset, who expects another group from Romanian workers in about 10 days, said he had written to Prime Minister Janez Janša and Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec about the situation. He noted Germany had flown in 80,000 workers from Romania to assist its hop growers.

The Agriculture Ministry has meanwhile said that it has become actively involved in addressing worker shortages in the sector. The ministry said it established communication with student job services and the Employment Service.

The ministry is also coordinating with other government departments so as to enable other people to help out in agriculture if they wish to do so, with the ministry counting on pensioners, those temporarily laid-off and students.

10 Apr 2020, 04:20 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:

PM's tweets put Slovenia's future financial support to WHO in question

LJUBLJANA - The government's coronavirus spokesperson Jelko Kacin rejected interpretations Slovenia had already decided to freeze membership payments to the World Health Organisation (WHO) given that PM Janez Janša said everybody would need to follow the example of the US in taking this step. Asked to comment on a series of tweets by Janša targeting the WHO, including Wednesday's "We all have to do it" in response to US President Donald Trump's announcement the US was going to put on hold funding to the WHO, Kacin said Slovenia was yet to decide on this.

PM says substantial easing of lockdown only after key conditions met

LJUBLJANA - Elaborating on the timeline of the announced easing of coronavirus lockdown measures, PM Janez Janša said a number of conditions would need to be met before any substantial softening was possible. One of those was the transmission rate falling bellow one. Moreover, the healthcare system must not be under excessive pressure, sufficient testing capacities need to be secured and working instruments need to be in place for the transitional period, plus options to monitor the infected.

Coronavirus death toll climbs to 43, confirmed cases reach 1,124

LJUBLJANA - The coronavirus death toll in Slovenia has reached 43 as three people died on Wednesday. The number of confirmed infections rose by 33 to 1,124. Hospital data indicates the situation is stabilising, with hospitalisations and intensive care cases flat. A total of 108 persons were in hospital yesterday, of whom 34 in intensive care. So far 128 persons have been discharged from hospital, eight of them yesterday, government spokesmen Jelko Kacin said.

SDS under fire following dispatch about communist origins of Slovenian media

LJUBLJANA - The senior coalition Democratic Party (SDS) came under fire from journalists, the opposition as well as its coalition partners after an official government dispatch to the Council of Europe's Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists claimed that all the main media stemmed from the communist regime. The dispatch was a response to an alert issued by the Platform after PM Janez Janša tweeted in late March that the public broadcaster RTV Slovenia was misleading the public, adding "apparently there are too many of you and you are paid too well".

PM discusses anti-Covid-19 measures with Fedriga

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša exchanged information on the current coronavirus situation with Friuli Venezia Giulia President Massimiliano Fedriga via videoconference. The pair discussed measures imposed in Slovenia and the Italian region to contain the Covid-19 spread, and vowed to cooperate and exchange relevant experience. The government said that the region bordering Slovenia had been more effective in tackling the epidemic than other northern-Italian regions, which played an important role for Slovenian western and coastal regions.

MEPs urging Slovenia to welcome refugee children

LJUBLJANA - Five Slovenian MEPs called on the government to join EU countries taking in unaccompanied refugee children stranded on Greek islands. In call initiated by Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD) and joined by Milan Brglez (S&D/SD), Klemen Grošelj, Irena Joveva (both Renew/LMŠ), and Ljudmila Novak (EPP/NSi) noted that on 9 March EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on member states to assist 1,600 unaccompanied Syrian children. A number of EU countries have lent a hand, but not Slovenia.

More than 4900 net jobs lost in April, show early data

LJUBLJANA - The coronavirus pandemic and measures to contain infections have hammered the Slovenian labour market hard with unofficial data from the country's Employment Service showing the registered unemployment total rising by 4,922 in the first eight days of April to 82,777. Between 1 and 8 April, 6,093 people lost their jobs. Meanwhile, 1,169 people were removed from the unemployment registry, of whom 817 found jobs.

Slovenia requests international aid over protective equipment transport

LJUBLJANA - The government asked for international assistance in securing transport for protective equipment and other supplies to ensure there is enough equipment to battle the coronavirus epidemic. The Defence Ministry said the request would be made via NATO's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. Between 16 March and 8 April, the Agency for Commodity Reserves submitted 55 orders for protective equipment and other medical supplies worth EUR 181 million without VAT. Suppliers have so far delivered on 15 contracts totalling EUR 3.17 million without VAT.

Non-urgent health services to resume

LJUBLJANA - The government decided to allow non-urgent health services to resume under certain conditions after these have been suspended in the efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic in the country. Such as out-patient specialist and diagnostic services, rehabilitation and other non-emergency treatments will be resumed for patients "with negative epidemic anamnesis who do not have symptoms of a respiratory infection and whose health condition could worsen should the health service be omitted or delayed". Detailed instructions are yet to follow.

Passenger flight ban extended again

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian air traffic remains restricted as the government yet again extended a ban on passenger flights that was already prolonged in late March. Flights within the EU are suspended until 27 April, with the rest banned until further notice. The ban was originally put in place on 17 March, suspending passenger flights from and to EU countries until 30 March and other flights until further notice. In line with the EU law, the government then extended the ban for two weeks.

Trade in goods continued to grow in February, exports up 12%

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's trade in goods continued to grow in February, the month before Slovenia introduced strict lockdown measures amid the coronavirus epidemic. Exports grew by 11.7% and imports by 5.9% over February 2019, data released by the Statistics Office show. Exports reached EUR 2.98 billion and imports EUR 2.75 billion, putting the monthly surplus at EUR 232.3 million and export-import ratio at 108.4%. EU markets accounted for 70.3% of Slovenia's exports and 69.2% of imports.

Krka shareholders looking at much higher dividend

NOVO MESTO - The supervisory and management boards of Krka proposed the shareholders of the drug maker be paid dividends of EUR 4.25 gross per share. Not only is the proposed payout almost a third higher than in 2019, Krka is actually one of few listed companies whose shareholders may get dividends this year. The company said the boards would propose at the AGM scheduled for 9 July that EUR 133.85 million in distributable profit from 2019 is allocated for dividends.

Slovenia seeking flexibility in EU culture funding

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia advocates funding flexibility and allowances for the specifics of smaller countries when it comes to the financing of cultural programmes, Culture Minister Vasko Simonito told his EU counterparts at a teleconference on Wednesday. "Each member state has its own cultural, economic and linguistic characteristics. But without cooperation among us European projects are questionable as well. It is therefore urgent that all measures currently adopted by the European Commission make allowances for the diverse needs of cultural sectors in individual countries."

Survey: One out of three Slovenians continue to go to work

LJUBLJANA - A survey conduced by Aragon found that almost one out of three Slovenians (29%) continue to go to work as they used to before the measures to contain the coronavirus epidemic were introduced, and a similar proportion work from home (28%). An additional 16% have been temporarily laid-off and 9% are on annual leave with 5% working short time and as many are on sick leave. More than half of the respondents believe the epidemic poses a great risk for their jobs and companies they work for.

Poll shows growing optimism regarding coronavirus situation

LJUBLJANA - Slovenians are increasingly optimistic regarding the situation around the coronavirus epidemic, shows the latest survey by Valicon, as a vast majority of respondents believes that things are turning for the better. The share of people who are concerned about their jobs has increased, but it is still relatively low. Some 89% of respondents said that things were getting better or much better, compared to 66% a week ago and 56% two weeks ago. Slovenians also express optimism when it comes to the current situation, with 58% assessing it as more positive than negative.

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

09 Apr 2020, 20:40 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

We can’t have pictures of COVID-19 every day. So instead we’ll try and show the works of Slovenian artists. Today it’s Aleksander Sandi, and you can see more of his work here.

Contents

Coronavirus death toll climbs to 43, confirmed cases reach 1,124

PM says substantial easing of lockdown only after key conditions are met

Passenger flight ban extended again

Non-urgent health services to resume

Coronavirus death toll climbs to 43, confirmed cases reach 1,124

STA, 9 April 2020 - The coronavirus death toll in Slovenia has reached 43 as three people died on Wednesday. The number of confirmed infections rose by 33 to 1,124, show the latest government data.

Hospital data indicates the situation is stabilising, with hospitalisations and intensive care cases flat. A total of 108 persons were in hospital yesterday, of whom 34 in intensive care.

So far 128 persons have been released from hospital, eight of them yesterday, government spokesmen Jelko Kacin said.

Two groups stand out: infections have been confirmed in 225 residents of nursing homes and in 208 health workers, of whom 72 work in nursing homes.

The Šmarje pri Jelšah nursing homes, site of one of the first major outbreaks, remains a hot spot as 137 residents and staff have been infected.

The Slovenian government has not been releasing the details of the death cases for a while quoting protection of personal data, but at least in the early stages of the epidemic the vast majority of fatal cases were in retirement homes.

Kacin said today that there were "a lot of elderly people" among the fatalities.

Hospital data shows that the age structure of the infections is strongly skewed towards the older population. At UKC Ljubljana, all fatalities have been in patients over the age of 60 who had underlying health conditions.

The average age of those hospitalised is 68, with the majority falling in the 50-60 age bracket, Mateja Logar of the infectious diseases clinic told the press today.

Testing in Slovenia continues at roughly the same pace as 1,144 tests were performed yesterday, for a total of 31,813 since testing began.

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PM says substantial easing of lockdown only after key conditions are met

STA, 9 April 2020 - Elaborating on the timeline of the announced easing of coronavirus lockdown measures, PM Janez Janša stressed on Thursday a number of conditions would need to be met before any substantial softening is possible. The government spokesperson Jelko Kacin said movement would remain limited to municipal borders for at least eight more days.

Janša wrote on twitter that a softening of measures would need to be preceded by the transmission rate falling below one. Moreover, the healthcare system must not be under excessive pressure, sufficient testing capacities need to be secured and working instruments need to be in place for the transitional period.

He also wants legal and technical possibilities in place and available at sufficient capacity to monitor those who test positive and to manage a potential spread.

Janša pointed to the ever chancing circumstances globally, for instance in Japan where a state of emergency was declared today even tough Japan was thought to have contained the epidemic during the first wave.

Kacin, the government's spokesperson for the crisis, commented on the situation at the regular daily briefing. He said that the movement of people would remain restricted to municipal borders at least until the weekend next week.

"If we lift the movement restrictions too fast, we will all get the false feeling that the epidemic is behind us and that we're safe. We first need to prepare for this mobility," he said.

He explained the announced easing of retail and service sector restrictions after Easter would be reassessed next Tuesday on the basis of the situation in hospitals. The easing would apply for tyre repair shops, car washes, mechanic shops, and technical goods repair services.

The government is also thinking about relaunching public transport, but Kacin could not yet speak of a timeline.

Meanwhile, opposition parties responded to the developments by mostly stressing the measures needed to be coordinated with experts and that results so far have been good, while they also suggested some restrictions could already be lifted.

The SocDems for instance repeated that people should be allowed to move across municipal borders, although possibly not flock to tourist sites, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) sees no need to still restrict shopping time for vulnerable groups, while the Left feels the expanded police powers should be cancelled immediately.

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Passenger flight ban extended again

STA, 9 April 2020 - Slovenian air traffic remains restricted as the government yet again extended on Thursday a ban on passenger flights that was already prolonged in late March. Under today's decree, flights within the EU are suspended until 27 April, with the rest banned until further notice.

The ban was originally put in place on 17 March, suspending passenger flights from and to EU countries until 30 March and other flights until further notice. In line with the EU law, the government then extended the ban for two weeks.

The ban does not apply to aircraft transporting cargo or mail, aircraft conducting special transport without passengers or ferry flights, or to foreign planes or helicopters on humanitarian or health missions.

Passenger air traffic has ground to a halt across the world as countries try to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

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Non-urgent health services to resume

STA, 9 April 2020 - The government has decided to allow non-urgent health services to resume under certain conditions after these have been suspended in the efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic in the country.

A release issued after Thursday's government session says services such as out-patient specialist and diagnostic services, rehabilitation and other non-emergency treatments will be resumed for patients "with negative epidemic anamnesis who do not have symptoms of a respiratory infection and whose health condition could worsen should the health service be omitted or delayed".

Detailed instructions on how the patients will be admitted and handled will be drawn up by a group of experts at the Health Ministry.

The instructions determine preventive and other measures to ensure safe handling of patients and efficient prevention of the spread of Covid-19, as well as how the patient's negative status will be checked.

Non-urgent health services can only be provided by those providers who have the staffing, organisational and technical conditions in place to provide suitable, quality and safe health services.

The decision was taken to disburden primary care providers, ensure a smooth flow of patients from primary to secondary level of care and to provide health care for other patients as soon as possible in as much omission of such services could lead to a deterioration in the patient's health condition.

The change in the relevant decree, which will come into affect the next day after being published in the Official Gazette, is also aimed at reducing the impact of measures taken on the prolonging of waiting times.

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09 Apr 2020, 16:21 PM

STA, 9 April 2020 - A survey has found that slightly less than a third of Slovenians continue to go to work as they used to before the measures to contain the coronavirus epidemic were introduced, and a similar proportion work from home. More than half of the respondents think that the epidemic poses a great risk for their jobs and companies they are employed in.

In the survey carried out by Aragon, 29% of the respondents said they continued to go to work as usual, 28% said they worked from home, while 16% have been temporarily laid-off.

Some 9% of the people polled are on annual leave, 5% work short time, and the same percentage are on sick leave. Only a fraction of the respondents are on leave because they have to take care of small children as schools and kindergartens are closed.

Men are in the majority among those who continue to go to work as usual, and women are in the majority of those who have stayed at home to take care of small children. The share of women who are on temporary lay-off is slightly higher than that of men.

"All this implies that the coronavirus crisis, if it persists for a long time, could result in economic inequality between genders," the pollster said.

The survey also shows that Slovenians think that the number of persons who are actually infected with Covid-19 is four times higher than the number of officially confirmed cases.

It has been projected based on the survey that on 10 April, the number of officially confirmed cases is to stand at 1,470, which would put the number of perceived cases at around 6,600.

More than half of the respondents (56%) would take a vaccine against the coronavirus if it existed, with men being more inclined to vaccination than women (62% to 50%).

The survey was carried out between 28 March and 2 April on what Aragon said is a representative sample of 1,031 members of the online panel Plusplet.

09 Apr 2020, 13:03 PM

The tax office issued a reminder that Thursday 9 April, and not tomorrow is the last date for tax payments (akontacija) by sole proprietors (SP). Anyone who will be late with the payment will not be able to apply for government subsidies related to pandemic relief. This is because tomorrow is a bank holiday, due to Easter.

The application form for two kinds of aid, social contributions waiver and monthly basic income, will be available on eDavki from April 14.

You can apply for a contributions waiver for March for the period from 13 March onwards (due on April 20), April (due on May 20) and for May (due on June 20). If you want to apply for a contributions exemption for March and April, you must submit a statement via eDavaki by April 30. The application deadline for the May contributions waiver is May 31. All applications can be made in one statement.

SPs can also apply via the same statement for the monthly basic income, which amounts to €350 for March, and €700 for April and May.

The conditions for the monthly basic income are the same as the contributions waiver.

- at least a 25% reduction of income in March 2020 compared to February 2020, or

- at least a 50% reduction of income in April or May 2020 compared with the income of February 2020.

Those eligible for help are SPs whose income will decline by more than 20% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 and will not exceed 20% growth of revenue in the second half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 although this is not clear on the official website. If this condition is not met, the beneficiary will have to repay all the aid they have received.

From the website of the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia.

09 Apr 2020, 10:41 AM

STA, 8 April 2020- The programming council of the public broadcaster has come out in defence of independent and professional journalism after several RTV Slovenija crews have been attacked and Prime Minister Janez Janša accused the broadcaster of lying in recent weeks.

In a statement adopted after its tele-session, it condemned attacks on RTV Slovenija's independence and on the professionalism of its journalists.

Noting that constructive criticism is welcome because it can lead to improvement, "the council resolutely rejects all attacks which more or less openly aspire to damage RTV Slovenija's independence and the media professionalism of its staff".

The council said it supported upright journalism regardless of political or religious affiliation of journalists and regardless of their world-view.

It noted Slovenia being amid the Covid-19 epidemic, entering recession and witnessing increased social distress among its residents. But in this complex crisis, public media play an important role of bringing news, providing explanations and opening up debate.

The council said the situation demands great efforts and self-sacrifice also from RTV Slovenija, its leadership, editors, journalists and other staff to bring a professional public service.

Janša accused RTV Slovenija of lying in the first week after his government assumed power amid the coronavirus epidemic in a tweet targeting an interview with a trade unionist who expressed indignation about the government's pay raise. A few days later two TV crews were harassed verbally, with one of them also having the company's vehicle damaged.

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