STA, 14 May 2020 - NLB generated EUR 18.3 million in net profit at group level in the first quarter, a 68% year-on-year decrease that Slovenia's largest bank said was the result of credit impairments and provisions formed due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Net interest income decreased by 3% to EUR 77.4 million, "mainly due to higher interest expenses resulting from new Tier 2 instruments issued by the bank, which was partly compensated for by increased loan volumes", says NLB's business report published on Thursday.
Net fee and commission income increased 6% to EUR 42.4 million, in particular in the retail segment in banking members on the markets of SE Europe. In the second half of March, net fee and commission income dropped due to the outbreak of Covid-19, especially in card operations, the bank said.
In the first quarter the NLB Group set aside impairments and provisions totalling EUR 28.3 million, which compares to EUR 0.6 million in the same period last year. Additional credit impairments and provisions in the amount of EUR 24.5 million were recognized in the first quarter due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Gross loans to customers amounted to EUR 8.13 billion, which is 2% more than at the end of last year. Deposits from customers increased moderately, the bank said.
Gross loan to households remained level while gross loans to companies increased by 5% compared to the end of 2019. Lending restrictions introduced by Banka Slovenije in November 2019 and the coronavirus outbreak reduced new loans to households while demand increased for working capital at companies, NLB said.
The bank said it holds a very strong liquidity position, at the group and individual subsidiary bank level. The total capital ratio for the group stood at 18.5%, which "represents a solid basis to cover all regulatory requirements... also in the aggravated circumstances during COVID-19 pandemic".
Credit portfolio quality did not deteriorate, with the share of non-performing loans remaining unchanged at 2.7%. The group "expects credit portfolio quality to worsen in 2020 through a downgrade of some clients, including the increase of non-performing loans as a result of the economic slowdown".
While the supervisory board also got acquainted with the results today, chairman Blaž Brodnjak assessed the crisis could also mean an opportunity.
"On the one hand, us being the largest banking and financial group headquartered in this region - the group which calls this region its home - means that people listen to us. And on the other hand, it might just give us an additional push towards making full use of our potential," said Brodnjak.
Updated at 18:15 with response by tourism officials, with the added text here
STA, 15 May 2020 - The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) has issued a set of recommendations for the tourism and hospitality sector to make sure that both staff and guests will be safe as bars and restaurants again start serving food and drinks indoors on Monday, and tourist accommodation with up to 30 rooms reopens.
Restaurants are urged to exclude all self-service options from their offering, including salad buffets, salad dressings, spices and bread baskets, while spoons, forks and knifes should come in a cotton bag or wrapped in a napkin for each guest individually.
The NIJZ believes it would be best if physical obstacles were placed between tables, while playgrounds for children, toys, newspapers and magazines should be off limits.
All staff and guests will be required to wear face masks or other type of protection covering nose and mouth at all times, except when sitting at the table. Communication between the waiter and guests should be reduced to a minimum.
To avoid contact with other guests, it will be best to make reservations, while those arriving at a restaurant unannounced will be requested to follow markings on the floor.
The NIJZ has also prepared detailed recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces and kitchenware, so guests should not be surprised to see tables without tablecloths and waiters dressed in cotton clothes.
Similarly, guests who will stay at small hotels that will reopen on Monday, should not be surprised to see changes in rooms decor as all textile decorative elements will have to be removed.
Tourist accommodations will also have to adjust their check-in procedure to minimise contact among guests. Hand sanitisers will also be used before and after handling any documents, and using pens.
Promotional material will only be available upon request, while rooms with multiple beds will only be available for members of the same household, which will be checked during check-in.
Updated text below
Gregor Jamnik, the head of the Slovenian Association of Hotels, welcomed the guidelines, urging his colleagues to act in line with both mandatory and voluntary standards.
He deems safety precautions a new trend in tourism that should be welcomed as soon as possible to remain competitive.
Meanwhile, Fedja Pobegajlo, director of the Tourism Chamber, said today that the recommendations were expected. He has expressed satisfaction over the institute releasing guidelines for all the tourism sectors that are currently in the process of reopening.
Moreover, he has called on NIJZ to provide a set of recommendations for those that are yet to relaunch business as usual and thus help them get ready. Apart from large hotels, spas, swimming pools and casinos remain closed for now.
All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 14 May 2020 - The Slovenian government has formally called an end to the coronavirus epidemic. Key containment measures remain in place, but the one major restriction has been lifted: EU nationals will be free to cross the border, with some caveats.
The current epidemiological situation "makes it possible to relax measures that were urgent to contain and manage Covid-19, but they cannot yet be completely abolished," the Government Communications Office said in a press release after Wednesday's session.
It noted that Slovenia had had 35 cases in the past 14 days, while the reproduction number, which shows how many people a patient infects on average, had fallen below 1.
Although the government decree marks the formal end of the epidemic, which had been declared on 12 March pursuant to the communicable diseases act, the majority of public health measures remain in place.
The government said testing, contract tracing, isolation, quarantine for high-risk contacts, observance of caught etiquette and physical distancing would remain the key measures to fight the epidemic.
In another decree, the government decided to allow EU nationals to cross the border at selected checkpoints, ending the policy of seven-day quarantine.
Third-country nationals will be subject to a two-week quarantine, with some exceptions.
The decree will enter into effect a day after it is published in the Official Gazette, presumably on Friday.
STA, 15 May 2020 - EU residents are free to cross into Slovenia from Austria, Italy and Hungary at pre-determined checkpoints while most non-EU nationals will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, in what is a major step for the country as it accelerates the easing of restrictions.
Under the government decree adopted late on Thursday, there will be 19 checkpoints on the border with Austria, nine on the border with Italy and five on the border with Hungary.
The listed checkpoints largely correspond to checkpoints where passengers may cross at present.
Some crossings are open only to locals or daily cross-border commuters and special exemptions are in place for owners of land on both sides of the border.
Three airports and two ports are among the ports of entry listed in the government decree.
The decree also covers Slovenia's border with Croatia, which is the external EU border, but there it does not limit crossing to specific checkpoints.
Under the new rules, those with permanent or temporary residence in the EU will be given instructions issued by the National Institute of Public Health upon entering Slovenia but will not need to quarantine, which they have to do for seven days at present.
When such a person declares they have coronavirus or symptoms thereof, or clearly show symptoms, they will be rejected at the border if they do not have permanent residence in Slovenia; those who do will be referred to medical services.
Third-country nationals must undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine, with exceptions for diplomats, members of rescue and relief services, attendance of funeral, lorry drivers and persons with certificates issued by the competent Slovenian ministry showing they will provide urgent services.
Notably, if it is believed a person entering the country may not be able to leave because of the measures of neighbouring countries, they will be denied entry.
The new policy will initially benefit mostly owners of property in Croatia, thousands of whom have been keen to visit their holiday homes but many reluctant to do so due to the mandatory seven-day quarantine upon return.
But even more importantly, it paves the way for a relaunch of cross-border tourism, which has been suspended for two months due to lockdown measures around the world.
It will also be a relief for businesses, which have been calling on the government to relax rules for business travel as cross-border commerce kicks into higher gear.
The decree was adopted last night, after the government formally declared the epidemic over while keeping in place all measures adopted to combat the disease.
While the decree comes into effect today, it will only be in application from 31 May on.
The decision was based on the assessment of the National Institute of Public Health, but unless the government declared the epidemic over last night, measures from the mega stimulus package, now in force until the end of May, would be extended by a month.
Slovenia has had low single-digit daily case increases since the end of April and the epidemic, declared on 12 March, is seen as being under control.
The country has confirmed 1,464 Covid-19 cases and 103 people have died since the first case was recorded in the country on 4 March. The biggest hotspots were care homes.
Slovenia is the first European country to declare an end of the coronavirus epidemic.
Only yesterday some medical professionals expressed reservations in a anticipation of such a move, as some restrictions were only being lifted now so it was hard to say what the easing would bring.
This summary is provided by the STA:
PM Janša indicates formal end of epidemic near
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša indicated in parliament the government could soon declare the coronavirus epidemic over, having brought the situation under control in the two months since it took office. "Slovenia has contained the epidemic. Today it has the best epidemiological status in Europe," he said, adding that the epidemic could formally be declared ended at a time which will "probably coincide with the date of the expiry of the first two anti-corona packages", that is the end of May.
Janša denies wrongdoing in PPE purchases
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša dismissed allegations of government misconduct in the purchasing of personal protective equipment as he delivered the opening address in a parliamentary debate on a government report on PPE purchases. He argued that quick action saved dozens of lives after the government was faced with empty stockpiles of protective gear when it took office a day after the epidemic was declared. He also said the government made all contracts public.
Just one new coronavirus infection, no new deaths
LJUBLJANA - Only one out of 984 tests for the novel coronavirus conducted in Slovenia on Wednesday came back positive, raising the total of cases confirmed so far to 1,464. No new fatalities have been reported, leaving the death toll unchanged at 103. Only 32 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 remain in hospitals, according to government data as of midnight, after seven more were discharged yesterday. Seven remain in intensive care.
Janša talks with von der Leyen, Stoltenberg
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša had separate conversations with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, focussing on responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a tweet posted by Janša, he and von der Leyen had a constructive discussion on the EU's new budget proposal and on a new recovery fund. The conversation with Stoltenberg centred "on the priorities of the alliance, our common missions around the world and on unfulfilled promises given by the previous government and Slovenia's plans to strengthen its defence capability and credibility", Janša tweeted.
President talks coronavirus pandemic with Georgian counterpart
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor talked with his Georgian counterpart Salome Zourabichvili over the phone, discussing the novel coronavirus pandemic. Both presidents expressed the view that their respective countries are dealing well with the pandemic. They agreed that a great level of caution will be needed in the future so as to avoid more breakouts, Pahor's office said in a press release. The presidents also share the view that the economic and social consequences of the health crisis will be a great challenge.
Central bank gets adverse opinion from Court of Audit
LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit found a series of violations at Slovenia's central bank between 2017 in 2018, releasing an adverse opinion in what is its first audit of Banka Slovenije. While the court is yet to complete a review of the banking regulator's supervisory role prior and during the bailout of banks in 2013-14, a scrutiny of the operations in 2017-18 showed the central bank flouted regulations on hirings, employments, severance packages and public procurement. Unofficially, the court took issue with EUR 76,000 severance package paid to former governor Boštjan Jazbec as he resigned in March 2018.
NLB bank's net profit down by 68% y/y in Q1 to EUR 18.3m
LJUBLJANA - NLB generated EUR 18.3 million in net profit at group level in the first quarter, a 68% year-on-year decrease that Slovenia's largest bank said was the result of credit impairments and provisions formed due to the coronavirus epidemic. Net interest income decreased by 3% to EUR 77.4 million, "mainly due to higher interest expenses resulting from new Tier 2 instruments issued by the bank, which was partly compensated for by increased loan volumes", said NLB's business report. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank cleared Petr Brunclik as a new member of the NLB management.
Telekom Slovenije reports 12% higher Q1 profit on lower sales
LJUBLJANA - Telecoms group Telekom Slovenije saw its net profit rise by 12% year-on-year to EUR 11.3 million in the first quarter of the year, as sales dropped by 2% to EUR 168.6 million. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were flat at EUR 56.4 million, and earnings before interest, taxes rose by 23% to EUR 14.5 million. The company saw a surge in online and mobile traffic and sales since the coronavirus epidemic was declared in Slovenia in mid-March.
Triglav Group Q1 pre-tax profit down 12% to EUR 26.5m
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's leading insurance group, Triglav, reported EUR 26.4 million in pre-tax profit for the first quarter, a 12% year-on-year decrease that it primarily ascribes to several disaster events. The group posted a total of EUR 348.9 million in consolidated gross written premium, up 10% relative to the same period last year. "Major CAT events in the first quarter of the year - an earthquake in Zagreb and hailstorms in Slovenia - decreased year-on-year quarterly profit," the company said, while adding the pandemic had reduced the value of financial investment.
Opposition wants debate on foreign minister's letter on judiciary
LJUBLJANA - The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left, and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) asked for the foreign policy and judiciary committees to discuss what they consider Foreign Minister Anže Logar's contentious letter on the judiciary sent to the EU, as well as Prime Minister Janez Janša's letter entitled War against the Media. In a letter accompanying the Slovenian report on the rule of law in the country, Logar presented a critical view of some aspects of the Slovenian judiciary.
DeSUS demands govt tend to its priorities, not happy with ideological topics
LJUBLJANA - The executive committee of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) issued a demand that the government start working on DeSUS's priorities. Highlighting the priority coalition agreement commitments for DeSUS, the party demands that a task force be formed to draw up the act forming a demographic fund, a pension support fund in which state assets would be pooled to help finance public pensions. Party head Aleksandra Pivec said the party was united and that the dismissal of its secretary general was a part of a staffing reshuffle.
Jaklitsch talks economic cooperation with Slovenian minority in Austria, Italy
LJUBLJANA/KLAGENFURT, Austria/TRIESTE, Italy - The need to nurture cross-border cooperation and the economy in the border regions was highlighted in a video-call featuring Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch and representatives of Slovenian business in Austria and Italy. Current activities, in particular those related to challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, were presented, including efforts to deal with the impact on cross-border economic activities, the government's Office for Slovenians Abroad said.
Minority in Austria critical of state on independence treaty anniversary
KLAGENFURT, Austria - Marking the 65th anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty, the Slovenian Consensus for Constitutional Rights (SKUP), a political group of the Slovenian minority in Austria, as well as the Community of Carinthian Slovenians (SKS), one of the minority's key organisations, warned that the minority's rights were not completely implemented. SKUP highlighted that the Austrian government had been ignoring proposals regarding bilingual education, and should step up its efforts to secure equality of the Slovenian language as an official language in the Carinthian region as well as funds for the minority.
Slovenia sending PPE and disinfectants to Italy
LJUBLJANA - The government decided to send to Italy EUR 92,000 worth of disinfectants. Moreover, Slovenia will also send protective suits to Friuli Venezia Giulia. The government said in a press release that the aid will be sent to Italy through the EU's civil protection mechanism to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The protective suits, worth EUR 5,600, will be sent to Friuli Venezia Giulia following a bilateral request.
Major LGBTI study finds discrimination still rampant
BRUSSELS, Belgium - A major new EU study has found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) persons are increasingly open about their sexual identity, but they still face intimidation, violence and discrimination in everyday life. In Slovenia, the situation appears to be improving, with 55% saying that prejudice and intolerance to LBGTI persons decreased in the last five years, compared to 40% providing the same assessment in the EU on average.
Slovenians ever less worried about epidemic, survey shows
LJUBLJANA - Slovenians are becoming ever less worried about the coronavirus epidemic, the most recent survey by the pollster Valicon showed. At the end of March, 82% of respondents said they were worried about the epidemic, but now the share has dropped to 52%. In terms of measures imposed by the government, 47% of respondents find them appropriate, while 42% believe they are too strict. On the other hand, 11% worry that they are not strict enough. The respondents' opinion about the strictness of the measures has been changing through the epidemic. In late March, 57% of the respondents found them appropriate, while only 6% said they were too strict, while as many as 37% said measures were not strict enough.
If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here
STA, 14 May 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša dismissed allegations of government misconduct in the purchasing of protective personal equipment as he argued in parliament on Thursday that quick action saved dozens of lives after the government was faced with empty stockpiles of protective gear when it took office a day after the epidemic was declared.
Purchasing of protective equipment and critical medical supplies was conducted in line with legislation that allows short procedures in an epidemic, Janša said as he delivered the opening address in a parliamentary debate on a government report on PPE purchases.
But being aware of the risks, the government made sure all contracts were made public and it urged the Court of Audit to conduct a review of the procedures, with the coalition itself proposing a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.
Critics have accused the government of making the wrong choice by opting to secure equipment through intermediaries rather than directly from suppliers, but Janša dismissed the criticism.
He said providers initially demanded advance payments for the equipment and since these demands escalated the decision was made to try to purchase the equipment without advance payment.
He said many other countries opted to pay suppliers in advance but received either gear without the proper certificates or did not receive the orders at all.
"I don't know of a single European country where this did not happen. I talked to many colleagues. All had these same problems. I think Slovenia lost by far the least, if anything," he stressed.
Indeed, he said even the recent EU delivery of 30,000 surgical face masks was problematic and illustrated the general problems with supplies, as Slovenia was just today told that the equipment did not have proper certificates and should not be distributed to users.
Slovenia has so far paid about EUR 30 million for the supplies. "Everything that had been paid has also been delivered."
The government has also been criticised for picking untested intermediaries for the supplies, but Janša suggested the scandal erupted because existing suppliers, who had high margins, did not get in on the game.
Indeed, he said "those in charge who are now referred to as whistleblowers" had before that signed contracts with high margins with old suppliers, a reference to the deputy head of the Commodities Reserves Agency Ivan Gale, who accused senior officials of exerting undue pressure on the agency in the course of the purchasing.
"And now attention is of course being deflected. But every contract can be individually examined, there is no problem about that."
Janša said the events would now mean that Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek would "probably have to attend various commissions of inquiry for three years after the epidemic ends" to explain the purchasing.
"But this was a time when lives were at stake and what he did during that time, together with many colleagues ... saved dozens of lives."
The coalition parties echoed Janša's views, including Počivalšek's Modern Centre Party (SMC), which argued it had been warning former PM Marjan Šarec while still in his government that he was reacting too slowly.
The coalition shares the view that a good job had been done in unprecedented circumstances, that the responsible authorities should be allowed to do their work and that the finger-pointing should stop.
The opposition parties however did not hold back in their statements, with words like "theft", "crime" and "war profiteering" being used time and time again.
Former PM Šarec, who said the government report was not worth the paper it was printed on, rejected the accusations levelled against him, noting borders and schools had been closed, large events banned and visits to elderly homes prohibited already under his watch.
The opposition parties demand that the PPE purchases be investigate throughput, with Miha Kordiš of the Left for instance accusing Economy Minister Zdravko Polivalšek of lying when saying no advance payments were being made.
Kordiš also argued other countries had used their diplomatic network for the procurement, while Slovenia refused to do so. "You will pay back the commissions with interest," he said.
The session ended with a 50:0 vote confirming the government's report on PPE procurement, which pointed the finger at the previous government while mostly praising the current one. The vote was however boycotted by four opposition parties, which said it should not have been allowed procedurally.
All our stories on this can be found here
As BREG - a new Slovenian-inspired apparel brand launches, we speak to its creator Sam Baldwin about the project.
What’s the story behind BREG T-shirts?
I’m a fan of graphic design and I’m a huge fan of Slovenia, so I was looking for interesting Slovenian t-shirts. But all I could find in Ljubljana was very cliché, touristy designs: a dragon, a picture of Tito, a Slovenian flag. There was nothing appealing to me, despite Slovenia having plenty of interesting subject material. So I decided to create my own line of Slovenian-inspired t-shirts, drawing on Slovenian icons, Slovenian language and Slovenian locations. I wanted to make the designs uniquely Slovenian, but in a more interesting way than what is being offered for sale right now.
The location of Breg
In 2007, my brother and I bought an old mountain vikend in a tiny hamlet called Breg in Koroška, as we both had a huge affinity for mountains and snow. This was the beginning of my love affair with Slovenia. It’s been a challenging process renovating it over the years, with numerous problems along the way, but I love it, and it’s the reason that I grew more and more attached to Slovenia, which eventually led to me coming to live here full time.
Breg house was also the place where many of my designs were first sketched out – so it seemed fitting to name the brand after the place where my Slovenian story started. Breg also means ‘shore’ or ‘slope’ in Slovene so has a nice ring to it. You can read more about the trials and tribulations of renovating a 300-year old structure and my thoughts on Slovenian life on my blog at: www.BregHouse.com.
Where did the ideas for your designs from?
I’m from the UK but I’ve been visiting Slovenia for 13 years and living here almost three. During that time I’ve explored a lot of the country and met a lot of interesting people. The designs draw from all those experiences as I’ve seen many things that I think would look good on a shirt.
To kick off the launch of the brand – I wanted to have a mix of designs; something representing Ljubljana and Slovenia as a nation (LJ-Triglav), something for Bled (Kremšnita), something for the Vršič Pass (as I just love this road and thought it would make a nice design), and something to do with the Human Fish.
My most obscure design - Ski Mežica - is based on a forgotten ski area. Mežica in Koroška is a place dear to me as the town is near Breg, and it also has a really interesting ski history. It was once a popular centre of Slovenian skiing (being the 2nd ever Slovenian ski area after Kranjska Gora, producing at least one Olympic champion, and even having its own ski factory!) but sadly, the ski centre is no longer operating, and little remains to suggest the area was once such a Slovenian ski hot spot. I wanted to pay tribute to Mežica with a retro ski design, the type of which might have been worn during Mežica’s heyday as a ski centre.
How are people reacting to the designs?
So far - pretty positively. Of course, not all the designs appeal to all people, but the feedback has been good from both Slovenians and other nationalities. For some of the designs, only a Slovene would get the reference or joke, which is what makes them appealing to locals I think, and visitors looking for designs which are different to anything else on the market may also like them.
I’d like to build the BREG brand over time because I think there’s a space in the market for something genuinely Slovenian-flavoured, that goes beyond the typical tourist tat. Slovenia has so many interesting aspects that would look great on a shirt, and I’d like to continue to make designs which celebrate aspects of Slovenian culture but in an interesting and original way.
Where can people buy the shirts?
Thanks to coronavirus, my plans to get the shirts into shops around Slovenia have been delayed a little. However, there are two places to buy BREG products: the full range, including t-shirts, hoodies and other apparel can be purchased online at BregDesign.com – which ships worldwide.
Secondly, if you’re lucky enough to be in Slovenia, you’ll find selected lines at Črno Zrno coffee store in Ljubljana, in Gornji trg, the Old Town, and soon, once lockdown has been lifted, other locations around Ljubljana and the rest of Slovenia. Again, check the website (BregDesign.com) to see full list of Slovene stockists.
Will there be more BREG designs coming soon?
Yes – I have a sketch book full of ideas, so I’ll be bringing new designs out over the coming months. The hardest thing is deciding which ones to do next. Keep an eye on BregDesign.com to see he latest releases.
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.
STA, 14 May 2020 - Only one out of 984 tests for the novel coronavirus conducted in Slovenia on Wednesday came back positive, raising the total of cases confirmed so far to 1,464. No new fatalities have been reported, leaving the death toll unchanged at 103.
Only 32 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 remain in hospitals, according to government data as of midnight, after seven more were discharged yesterday.
Only seven Covid-19 patients still need intensive care after two were moved to regular wards yesterday.
A total of 66,678 tests for Sars-CoV-2 have been conducted so far.
STA, 14 May 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša indicated in parliament on Thursday that the government could soon declare the coronavirus epidemic over, having brought the situation under control in the two months since it took office.
"Slovenia has contained the epidemic. Today it has the best epidemiological status in Europe," he said, adding that the epidemic could formally be declared ended at a time which will "probably coincide with the date of the expiry of the first two anti-corona packages."
The first two economic stimulus packages provide emergency measures until the end of May.
Janša said this showed that "in very difficult circumstances our planning was practically precise to the day, assuming of course that based on the responsible conduct of everyone in these days and weeks, the epidemiological status remains the same as it is or does not significantly deteriorate."
He said Slovenia was transitioning from the period of epidemic to a period in which the second wave looms, which made it possible to revoke general protective measures and only keep very specific measures in place as long as needed.
Janša made the statement at the National Assembly, where he presented a government report on the purchasing of personal protective equipment.
STA, 13 May 2020 - The government decided on Wednesday to allow a majority of sports activities to resume as of 23 May, including practices and recreation in indoor facilities, and trainings and competitions in team sports.
The decree does not apply to fitness and wellness centres and swimming pools, with the exception for the latter applying to registered athletes, government spokesman Jelko Kacin told the STA, adding that outdoor water sports, for example rowing, would also be allowed.
Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted earlier in the day that competitions in team sports would be allowed to resume on 23 May.
Commenting on the decision, Slovenian Football Association (NZS) president Radenko Mijatović said this was a "great relief for football and sport in general". He added that the NZS was planning to organise the first matches in June.
"We have already had talks with clubs, and their wish was that at least four weeks of practice are held before the first official matches. This means that we plan to organise them in the first or second week of June," he told the STA.
"This decision means a lot for football in Slovenia from the competition aspect, as we the [national] champion and participants in European competitions will be decided on the pitch," Mijatović added.
On Monday, the NZS decided to continue with the premier league and the national cup for men, depending on the situation related to the epidemic, while ending the second league for men and the first league for women.
Registered athletes in individual sports are already allowed to train in outdoor facilities, with the exception of facilities belonging to educational institutions, and to participate in competitions up to the national level.
As of 23 May, team competitions and practices in facilities belonging to educational institutions will also be allowed, as well as extracurricular sport education of children and youth.
All activities must be carried out in adherence to public health rules issued and without spectators.
STA, 13 May 2020 - The government confirmed on Wednesday the plan to re-open kindergartens, primary schools for the first three grades and the final grade, and secondary schools for final-year students on Monday. Certain restrictions will apply, including on the number of children and students per classroom.
Under instructions recently issued by the Education Ministry, up to 10-15 children are allowed to sit in a single classroom in primary and secondary schools, and up to 8-10 children in an individual kindergarten group.
The 10-student limit will apply to the first three grades of primary school, while the 15-student limit will apply to the ninth grade of primary schools and the final grade of secondary schools.
Students of the remaining grades in primary and secondary schools are expected to continue to be schooled remotely until the end of the school year.
The recommendations also note that all school employees and nine-graders will be required to wear face masks - nine-graders only outside their classroom and employees all the time.
In kindergartens, a group in the first age category (one to three years) may count up to eight children, and up to ten children in the second category (four to six years).
Employees in kindergartens are advised to wear face masks, especially when they encounter colleagues or parents of the children.
Secondary school students will have to bring a signed statement confirming that they did not have Covid-19 symptoms in the last 14 days and that they were not in contact with an infected person.
For primary school children and kindergarten children, such statement will have to be signed by their parents.
STA, 13 May 2020 - Slovenia will see a major easing of quarantine restrictions on Monday. Tourism will reopen starting with smaller operations. All shops will be allowed to open, while bars and restaurants will be able to serve patrons indoors again, the government decided on Wednesday.
The entire tourism sector, hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 epidemic, will in effect be allowed to gradually reopen on Monday except for major providers.
Under the new government decree, the only facilities that must remain closed are accommodation facilities with over 30 rooms, accommodation for spa guests, wellness and fitness centres, pools and water parks.
The entire tourism industry has been shut down for two months in a bid to contain the epidemic and the decision made today is the first easing of restrictions in this sector.
All provider will have to abide by public health rules mandating a safe distance between guests and other safety precautions.
The decision to allow all stores to reopen will come as a relief in particular for large retailers, as smaller shops with up to 400 m2 of shopping area reopened last week.
Bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen last week as well, but they could only serve patrons outside. And while most operations will now be allowed to fully reopen, the ban remains in place for night clubs.
The government has also decided to get rid of the requirements that common areas in apartment buildings must be disinfected twice per day, a measure that has proved highly unpopular. Disinfecting is no longer required as of tomorrow.
This summary is provided by the STA:
Major easing of coronavirus restrictions planned for Monday
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will see a major easing of quarantine restrictions on 18 May. Tourism will reopen starting with smaller operations. The only facilities that must remain closed are accommodation facilities with over 30 rooms, accommodation for spa guests, wellness and fitness centres, pools and water parks. All shops will be allowed to open, while bars and restaurants will be able to serve patrons indoors again. The previously announced plan to re-open kindergartens, primary schools for the first three grades and the final grade, and secondary schools for final-year students on 18 May was confirmed as well. The majority of sports activities will be allowed to resume on 23 May, including practices and recreation in indoor facilities, and trainings and competitions in team sports.
One more Covid-19 fatality, two more infected
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded one more Covid-19 fatality on Tuesday, which raises the national death toll to 103, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by two to 1,463, official data show. Only 38 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 were still being treated in Slovenian hospitals yesterday, two fewer than the day before after one was discharged. Nine remained in intensive care. As many as 1,147 tests for Sars-CoV-2 were conducted yesterday, or a total of 65,694 so far.
MPs demand explanations from govt about equipment procurement
LJUBLJANA - After two sessions dedicated to Slovenia's procurement of personal protective equipment, the parliamentary Commission for Public Finance Oversight asked the government to provide a list of all deals, deliveries and prices paid. It also demands to see information under which the government decided to use intermediaries and not buy the equipment directly from manufacturers and the names of those responsible for this decision. It decided to recommend that the Court of Audit look into equipment procurement.
Teršek and Zobec parties' favourites for top court judge
LJUBLJANA - Barbara Zobec and Andraž Teršek emerged as the front-runners for one vacant post on the Constitutional Court after President Borut Pahor met the deputy group leaders of the six largest parliamentary on the first day of consultations. Zobec, a Supreme Court judge and the only woman among seven candidates, was backed by the Democrats (SDS) and deemed acceptable by the fellow coalition New Slovenia (NSi). The other parties meeting Pahor today, one coalition and three opposition parties, are largely more in favour of constitutional law expert Teršek, with two of them explicitly against Zobec.
EBRD projects 5.5% contraction for Slovenia this year
LONDON, UK - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) expects that Slovenia's economy will contract by 5.5% this year due to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, before rebounding to a 5% growth in 2021. This is the least pessimistic outlook for the country among the institutions that have already revised their forecasts in response to the coronavirus crisis. The EBRD expects the contraction to be driven to a large extent by a significant fall in exports.
Coronavirus crisis starting to affect banking sector
LJUBLJANA - The coronavirus crisis has started to affect the banking sector, as Slovenian banks reported only EUR 69.6 million in profit before tax in the first quarter of the year, less than half of last year's figure for the same period, the central bank said in a monthly report. "Although banks entered the crisis with high capital adequacy, good liquidity and other indicators, and even though their stability has been boosted ... we can expect that the serious situation in domestic and international business environments will have an increasingly pronounced impact on bank operations," it said.
Carinthian Slovenians urge reopening of border with Slovenia
KLAGENFURT, Austria - Gabriel Hribar, the leader of the only political party of Carinthian Slovenians, United List, urged the reopening of two border crossings between Slovenia and Austria so as to enable free movement of goods and services. Hribar appealed to both countries to open border crossings Pavličevo Sedlo and Jezerski Vrh. He noted that Austria has already agreed to open its border with Germany, which has far more coronavirus cases than Slovenia.
Austria opening four more checkpoints on border with Slovenia
GRAZ, Austria - Austria intends to open four more checkpoints on the border with Slovenia as it continues to ease measures adopted due to the coronavirus epidemic, Austrian press agency APA reported on Wednesday. Before the crossings Kramarovci, Cankova, Juri and Gerlinci in the east of the country can open for traffic as planned on Friday, the move will have to be coordinated with Slovenia.
Govt opposes plan to declare climate emergency
LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure, Environment and Spatial Planning failed to take a vote on an opposition-sponsored motion to declare a climate emergency after more than eight hours of debate yesterday. The proposal was backed by three largest opposition factions as well as by the heads of the deputy factions of DeSUS and SMC, the two centre-left parties in the ruling coalition, but the government does not support the proposed resolution. Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said a broader consensus was needed, while the issues were being tackled in a climate strategy.
Month-long military exercise in crisis response starts
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) are conducting a month-long series of exercises aimed at training its members to operate in crisis situations and respond in natural and other disasters, which the SAF force commander Mitja Škerbinc assessed as precisely what the Slovenian army needs at the moment. In what is one of the largest exercises of the SAF ever, started on Monday, Leap 2020 will take place in several locations around the country until 19 June. It will primarily deal with training for tactical procedures.
Austria decorates law professor Trstenjak
LJUBLJANA - Verica Trstenjak, a law professor and former advocate general at the European Court of Justice, received a state decoration from Austria for her efforts in strengthening relations between Slovenia and Austria and for her contribution in promoting European law. Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen bestowed on her the Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class and Trstenjak was given the medal by Austrian Ambassador to Slovenia Sigrid Berka.
Minority newspaper celebrates 75th anniversary
TRIESTE, Italy - Primorski Dnevnik, the newspaper of the Slovenian ethnic community in Italy, marked its 75th anniversary with a special edition in which Slovenian and Italian presidents, Borut Pahor and Sergio Mattarella, shared their thoughts on the occasion. They note that Primorski Dnevnik has been connecting the two countries and contributing to the preservation of cultural diversity and the Slovenian identity in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region.
Hauliers demand aid, threaten road blocks
LJUBLJANA - The hauliers section of the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS) called on Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec to have hauliers included in the pending third coronavirus stimulus package or risk "unrest and road blocks". "We were left out of the first corona package, then from the second and I hope the state will not allow us to also be excluded from the third," the representative of hauliers at the OZS Peter Pišek said.
Cinkarna Celje sees revenue rise but profit fall in Q1
CELJE - Cinkarna Celje, the Celje-based chemical company, saw sales revenue rise by 5% year-on-year in the first quarter to EUR 47.8% as net profit decreased by 12% to EUR 6.89 million. The company said demand had increased due to the absence of Chinese producers of titanium dioxide in the European market at the start of the year, while the pandemic and general panic in Europe in March triggered a stockpiling of pigment among buyers. However, figures turned down at the end of the first quarter.
Pharma wholesaler Salus buys stake in tech start-up
LJUBLJANA - Salus, a wholesale supplier of medicine and other pharmaceutical products, announced it had acquired a 10% stake in the tech start-up Medifit, which provides solutions for insurers, healthcare providers and patients. Medifit's products have included a platform with information on the services and waiting times in public healthcare. Salus said the investment was part of its 2018-2022 strategy.
Slovenians switch to food deliveries, bread baking
LJUBLJANA - During the coronavirus epidemic, Slovenians have mostly switched from buying food in shopping centres to frequenting local grocery shops and ordering food online, shows a survey conducted by the Nutrition Institute. Lockdown has changed shopping and dietary habits with almost two thirds of the respondents making bread from scratch. The number of households that get their groceries in shopping centres has been halved and almost 20% have been buying local.
Ljubljana Festival preparing to go ahead this summer
LJUBLJANA - Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the company behind Slovenia's largest summer festival is planning to go ahead with the Ljubljana Festival this year. Its director Darko Brlek told the STA that some changes had already been made but that everything would depend on restrictions in Slovenia as well as abroad. The festival should open on 2 July with Beethoven's Symphony No.9 and close on 31 August with the Philharmonic Orchestra from La Scala. All major events are to be held outdoors.
Return of sports competitions to start with golf and tennis
LJUBLJANA - Golf and tennis, which were also the first to be exempt from lockdown restrictions for recreational purposes in mid-April, will be the first sports in Slovenia to see a return to competitions. The golfers will start on 22 May and the tennis players a week later, but without spectators. The Arboretumu Ljubljana golf course north of Ljubljana will be the one to mark the relaunch of competitions with a three-day tournament that is part of the Slo Tour series.
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