22 Sep 2020, 11:54 AM

STA, 21 September 2020 - PM Janez Janša said the government will discuss the fifth omnibus bill bringing anti-coronavirus measures this week and the bill will also bring funds to cut waiting time in healthcare. The bill will moreover feature measures designed to prevent the spring scenario, when practically all non-urgent medical services were suspended.

This is what Janša said in parliament on Monday as he answered a question posed by Anderj Rajh from the opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), who urged better access to healthcare also at a time of rising Covid-19 cases.

Janša admitted that the epidemic, even if it lasted in Slovenia a relatively short period of time, caused some problems in access to healthcare.

He fears this could happen again if people fail to respect the measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus.

However, Janša announced the government would do all in its power for the spring situation not to repeat.

"We are in a serious situation when a debate on this is welcome," he told the National Assembly as it opened the September regular plenary.

He rejected the notion that the government had failed to act, having earmarked more than EUR 210 million for healthcare.

While there will be enough funds for the healthcare system, the problem is also organisation and capacities, he said, adding both issues were being addressed.

Rajh believes that a patient needs to get access to a medical treatment when they need it.

He proposed that parliament discuss Janša's reply to his question as part of a broader debate in parliament, and the MPs will vote on his proposal on Thursday.

A similar question came from Lidija Divjak Mirnik from the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), who also said public healthcare rather than private should be strengthened.

But Janša said the word "public healthcare" had been abused for years. "The more we talk about supporting public healthcare, the more [doctors and nurses] run away."

He announced the government would also address this issue, but said there was a shortage of staff. He noted the EU being a common area, meaning one can seek employment around the bloc where one is better paid.

Janša also announced talks to exclude the services part of the public sector from the uniform public pay system would start soon to set up a new system.

"If this problem is not solved, waiting time in Slovenian healthcare will further deteriorate, regardless of how much funds it gets," he said.

There have been demands to exclude various professions from the public sector pay system, with doctors pushing for higher pay for years.

However, responding to the STA's query, the Ministry of Public Administration said it had nothing to add to Janša's statement.

Health Minister Tomaž Gantar meanwhile told the STA that excluding at least healthcare from the public sector pay system was feasible.

His ministry and the FIDES trade union of doctors are to set up a task force that would try to come up with different remuneration criteria, he explained.

Gantar believes that a more motivating pay system is needed, which is what the task force will try to come up with.

However, this does not mean doctors will get higher pay immediately, he said, indicating they were willing to wait with their demands for some time.

"But we absolutely don't want to postpone these problems to some undefined future," the minister added.

21 Sep 2020, 15:02 PM

STA, 21 September 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša announced more oversight over the system of social transfers as he responded to an MP question from Zmago Jelinčil from the opposition National Party (SNS) on Monday about the status of immigrants from third countries and their social transfers. Janša said the coalition agreement envisaged a reform of social transfers.

Janša noted that in some towns, more than a hundred persons are registered at a single address, so the relevant ministry should investigate this.

In some cases, hundreds of people are registered at a property of a hundred or two hundred square metres, he said, adding that people were being exploited, having to pay a lot of money to the real estate owners to be registered there.

There are no such irregularities in most towns, but in some there are, and Maribor stands out, he said.

Janša said inspectors should not have a hard time investigating the matter, starting by comparing data.

Many of the loopholes in the current legislation will be fixed with changes to the foreigners act, the PM said.

Jelinčič proposed the National Assembly debate the matter, which MPs will decide on Thursday.

20 Sep 2020, 13:37 PM

STA, 18 September 2020 - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs has purchased a plot of land on the Slovenian coast for less than a third of the price the Koper municipality could have potentially fetched with the sale, Mladina reports on Friday. It suggests that Boris Popovič, the mayor of Koper at the time the land was initially sold to a Russian company, is involved.

The weekly says that Hojs purchased last July building land in the village of Kolomban, which overlooks the Slovenian coast near Koper.

The property was purchased from the Russian national Marat Idrisov, whose company had bought a larger piece of land in April 2017 at a public auction from the Koper municipality, which decided after the auction to service the land with a road and a sewage system.

The municipality, which was run by Boris Popovič at the time, sold a total of 3,894 square metres of land in Kolomban. Idrisov was the only bidder, as the land had not even been accessible by road at the time.

His company, Rjeckon, purchased the land at the asking price of EUR 262,920 or EUR 67.50 per square metre, which is a lower than the Koper municipality usually sells land plots to its residents, the weekly adds.

It notes that Rjeckon "is an unknown company, without particular references, and which prior to 2017 actually had no noteworthy revenue or assets expected from a company registered for real estate deals".

Idrisov is an acquaintance of Popovič's infrastructure advisor Radivoje Anđelković, who is believed to have helped the Russian buy the land. For instance, Anđelković allowed Idrisov to register his company at his home address in Ljubljana.

When the land was sold to Idrisov, it was still inaccessible by car, but after the sale the municipality decided to build utility infrastructure there - including a road to all land plots sold and a sewage system, the weekly notes.

Idrisov had thus actually purchased land for which other interested buyers could not have possibly known or predict that it would be provided with infrastructure at the municipality's expense.

Moreover, instead of a plot on which the local authorities built an access road, Idrisov was given the remainder of the available adjacent land to improve the functionality of the entire land plot.

Idrisov then divided his land into several plots and sold it to four persons, including Popovič, Anđelković and Hojs. The interior minister purchased 882 square metres for EUR 75,910, or EUR 86 per square metre.

Had the municipality serviced the land before selling it at auction, it could have fetched more than EUR 300 per square metre or more than EUR 1 million. In that case Hojs, would have to pay EUR 264,600 for his plot, according to Mladina.

The minister has told Mladina that he had reported the deal to the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, that he had financed it with his own assets and a loan, and that Popovič had not helped him with the purchase.

In a response, Hojs told the press in parliament he had nothing to add because everything is written in the opposition Left's online bulletin - Mladina.

Hojs is defending some of his past actions in the National Assembly as MPs are discussing the opposition-sponsored motion of no-confidence in him.

20 Sep 2020, 13:19 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 18 September 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: SDS driven by greed not ideology

STA, 18 September 2020 - The left-wing weekly Mladina argues in the latest editorial that the government's actions and decisions are driven by the ruling party's desire for money rather than by ideology.

"It is all about money (...) this is why the Slovenian government is one of the few that, at the time when the country is paralysed and hysterical with the epidemic, are busy with changes in the very system and makeup of the state," writes editor-in-chief Grega Repovž.

As one example he offers the creation of a demographic fund where he says the coalition are admitting they are redistributing the state silverware and the power of its management based on party formula.

Another is the tax reform where Repovž says the tax burden on top earners will be reduced, and the plan to annul tax on luxury vehicles.

He finds it paradoxical that "the government is mostly supported by voters who will never have those luxury cars, who will never be in top tax brackets, and they still believe those in power are some kind of fighters for social justice."

Instead, Repovž says that PM Janez Janša, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and other members of the government are those rich people that they are fighting for, so they do not see what is wrong with leveraging power to adapt tenders, legislation and business ways to make money.

He refers to an article in the latest edition of Mladina about how Hojs was sold an elite plot of land by the Koper municipality under Mayor Boris Popovič to the local community's detriment.

"We have people in power who are involved in suspicious dealings, do business with suspicious people, meet people who are in criminal procedures, work with people who propagate publicly they do tax evasion, they interfere in criminal procedures to help people in procedures over human trafficking and prostitution (...). None of them has denied any of that."

In conclusion of the piece headlined In Plain Sight, Repovž says that the hardest thing to understand is how none of deputies or other ministers of the junior coalition partners are bothered even though they know exactly what is going on.

Demokracija: Charges against Hojs ludicrous

STA, 17 September 2020 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija defends Interior Minister Aleš Hojs against accusations in the opposition-sponsored motion against him and the criminal complaint targeting him, which it finds absurd.

In the latest edition, Jože Biščak, the editor-in-chief, calls the charge over the reversal of the ban on concert of Croatian singer Marko Perković Thompson "the most stupid accusation on the planet" after the US Democrats' attempt to impeach President Donald Trump.

He says the accusation is based on disagreement with the ideological views of a Croatian singer the majority would never even heard about had the leftists not banned his concert in 2017, a ban that the Interior Ministry lifted after a series of complaints.

Biščak supports Hojs's view that the ministry's decision is based on human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, including freedom of speech, arguing that a Thompson concert is one such freedom, while being offended by such a concert is not a basic freedom.

He argues that back in 2017 the Miro Cerar government should have provided security to Thompson and his fans against a mass of people who planned to prevent the concert.

Meanwhile, he says it "would not be worth wasting one's breath over the criminal complaint against Hojs for ordering a revision of the most controversial corruption cases that have never seen a closure if it did not make obvious the political motivation of those who filed it".

The fact that they signed the complaint as 'honest police officers' should send alarm bells ringing as it is, writes Biščak under the headline The Heartbeat of Guerilla Politics, adding that the anonymous complaint is likely to be taken seriously by prosecutors even though it should end up in a bin.

"Experience of the justice system, which instead of guaranteeing equal and fair treatment of all by law dwells behind the door to hell, teaches us that we will witness a new farce. You know the way it goes: leftists adapt and change rules in guerrilla fashion so they suit the conduct of deep state evil doers."

All our posts in this series are here

20 Sep 2020, 12:21 PM

STA, 20 September 2020 - Out of 2,288 tests carried out, 111 came back positive on Saturday, and one patient died, the latest government data, posted on Twitter on Sunday, shows. The majority of the newly infected persons are from the 25-54 age group, while nine infections were confirmed in people older than 85.

There are now 66 Covid-19 patients in hospital, of whom 13 are in intensive care, of whom 12 need ventilator support to breathe, shows data on the national tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org.

As many as 1,255 coronavirus cases are active, and six of yesterday's infections were in elderly home residents.

The new cases were detected in more than 40 of Slovenia's 212 municipalities, with Ljubljana leading the way with 28.

In Pivka, a small municipality which has been a hotspot since last weekend, 12 new infections were confirmed, and another seven in the nearby municipality of Postojna.

Since the first case was confirmed on 4 March, Slovenia has seen 4,420 novel coronavirus infections confirmed, while 142 people have died.

The latest statistics on coronavirus and Slovenia, and the latest police news on red, green and yellow list countries. All our stories on coronavirus and SloveniaCan I transit Slovenia? Find out from the police...

Where is Pivka? See below

19 Sep 2020, 11:03 AM

STA, 19 September 2020 - Slovenia has made face masks mandatory outdoors as of Saturday in cases when it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres.

The government issued the new decree on Friday evening with the addendum that it would made a biweekly assessment of whether the measure is still necessary.

The decision comes after a sharp spike in new infections, with triple-digit increases in new cases for most of this week.

In indoor public places, masks have been mandatory since the first wave of the epidemic in spring. That part of the rule has now been tightened, including in schools, where students and teachers have so far been required to wear masks only in common areas.

Under the decree, students up to grade 6 of primary school are not required to wear masks in the classroom, while teachers have to wear them only if they cannot maintain a 2-metre physical distance from students in class.

From grade 7, both students and teachers must wear masks at all times unless they can maintain a 1.5-metre physical distance. In many classrooms, maintaining a physical distance is not possible.

The original plan involved making masks mandatory for kindergarten teachers as well, but strong backlash from the public appears to have convinced the government to backtrack.

Even the new mask rule in schools appears likely to provoke protests, judging by reactions by teacher and parent association to the government's preliminary announcement.

18 Sep 2020, 18:03 PM

Jump to new mask rules

STA, 18 September 2020 - The number of new coronavirus infections reached a new all-time high in Slovenia on Thursday, as 137 out of 3,557 tests came back positive, the government said on Twitter on Friday. The number of active cases is also at a record high of 1,116. Sixty-seven Covid-19 patients are meanwhile in hospital, eleven in intensive care.

Three people were discharged from hospital, while four people infected with coronavirus died, putting the national death toll at 140, the government said.

According to the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org, the number of total confirmed cases now stands at 4,195 and 194,970 tests have been performed since early March.

Government spokesman Jelko Kacin told the press later in the day that only two Thursday cases had been imported, and that the number of cases of local origin was double the number of cases of unknown origin.

Two persons who died yesterday are related to a care home in the northern region of Koroška, one of whom died at the UKC Ljubljana hospital. The identity of the other two deceased persons has not been revealed.

The coronavirus spokesman also announced two government decrees, to be adopted at today's correspondence session, including the one tightening rules for wearing face masks in outdoor places frequented by many people and at schools.

Asked by a journalist whether people should also wear masks while walking in crowded streets, like Čopova Street in Ljubljana, he said: "I will be walking along Čopova with a mask."

Kacin added that employers should also start purchasing devices for taking temperatures of employees, and that bars and restaurants would have to cancel some events as working hours would be limited to between 6am and 10pm.

He said that some other measures were also on the table, including further limiting the number of people for public gatherings from the current ten to six, but this will certainly not happen in the next two or three days.

Meanwhile, the Educations Ministry also published the numbers for infections at schools and kindergartens.

On Thursday, there were nine confirmed cases among employees in kindergartens, 46 among employees in primary schools and seven among staff in secondary schools.

One kindergarten child was infected as well, as were 55 primary school children and 23 secondary school students.

Also quarantined were 31 kindergarten staff along with 31 children, 133 employees at primary schools along with 208 children, and 16 employees at secondary schools where 82 pupils had to stay at home just like their infected classmates.

The ministry said that data after the third week of school did not suggest a shift was needed from the current model, which has children attending lesson in class, albeit with protective measures.

Schools, kindergartens shocked by new mask rules

STA, 18 September 2020 - Schools and kindergartens are upset by the new rules making face masks obligatory in classroom for teachers and children from 7th class, and for kindergarten teachers. The SVIZ trade union of teachers criticised the new measures as absolutely unacceptable and impossible to implement.

SVIZ head Branimir Štrukelj told the STA on Friday their phones had been ringing off the hook today, with teachers and other school and kindergarten staff warning that talking with a face mask for six hours was impossible. The new rule is particularly unacceptable for kindergartens, he said.

The Association of Slovenian Kindergartens said it was extremely surprised by the government's decision. According to its head Janja Bogataj, the government has made the decision without consulting kindergartens and without any kind of consideration about the consequences. "We don't know how we will be able to conduct the pedagogic process," she told the STA.

"I cannot imagine a kindergarten teacher signing songs, staging a play, dancing, exercising and at the same time comforting a child and offering them emotional support if the child will only see their eyes but no other facial expressions," she added.

Štrukelj believes the government's decision is merely transferring responsibility to schools and kindergartens. "This will have to stop, because we are close to the boiling point and we will present demands regarding additional staff in a few days."

Additional support staff will also be needed, as cooks and cleaners wearing masks are starting to suffer from burnout, he said.

If the authorities do not heed the demands, other measures will follow, Štrukelj announced.

Headteachers at schools and kindergartens have received no specific instructions yet regarding the regime that is to be introduced on Monday.

The principal of the Celje Center secondary chool, Gregor Deleja, told the STA that they only had information from the media.

"We would particularly like definitions of exceptions, as students and employees with asthma and other health problems would allegedly not need to wear masks," he said.

Education Minister Simona Kustec said today the ministry would send a set of instructions about the new measures to schools and kindergartens today.

She believes the new rules are not much different from the ones in place now, saying they were "nothing dramatic". "We all wear masks, we all know what distances we need to keep".

The minister said these were soft measures aimed at providing additional security so that schools and kindergartens did not become hotspots and that schools cloud remain open.

Asked who proposed the new rules, Kustec said the decision had been made by the government, which had been making decisions in cooperation with its advisory task force of epidemiologists.

Another issue is sufficient supply of masks for the staff and students.

Mojce Mihelič, the headteacher of the Ljubljana Danila Kumer primary school, is concerned how temperature screenings will be conducted in the morning when thousands of students and employees are entering school.

Lea Vidmar from the Šturje primary school in Ajdovščina finds the measures unacceptable for both teachers and students. "It is bad enough that students must be in the same classroom for so many hours, and now we will impose additions restrictions on them with masks."

The headteacher said the school had been cooperating with the municipality well, so it would provide them with masks and thermometers.

The parents' association said no detailed research had been conducted about parents' views on the new mask rules. But parents are wondering how 13- and 14-year-olds will be able to learn in classrom in a quality way while wearing masks, the association said.

18 Sep 2020, 15:39 PM

STA, 18 September 2020 - The police processed some 10,220 illegal crossings of Slovenia's borders until the end of August, up 3.3% compared to the same period in 2019. In summer, the figure was on the rise, in August alone the police handled more than 2,600 cases of illegal migrations, mostly involving citizens from Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan.

In the first two months of 2020, the number of illegal crossings of the border was up on the same period in 2019, followed by a lull in illegal migrations caused by anti-corona restrictions. In May, the figure increased to roughly 900 and in summer months it shot up, police data show.

In June, police processed some 1,800 foreigners who had crossed the border illegally, some 2,430 in July and 2,670 in August, and the upward trend is expected to continue in the coming months.

A total of 2,920 asylum seekers were recorded in Slovenia in the first eight months of 2020, most of them were from Morocco. The figure dropped by 13% compared to the same period last year. The police believes the decrease is mostly a result of a drop in the number of Algerian citizens stemming from new migration routes.

The asylum seekers mostly continue on their way heading towards their final destinations after being accommodated at reception facilities in Slovenia, said the police.

According to the Interior Ministry data, 500 requests for international protection were filed in August, mostly by citizens of Morocco and Pakistan. A total of 475 requests were processed, ten were granted protection and 430 cases were stayed.

The latest relevant data show that in the first seven moths of this year, 72 persons were given the asylum status and 85 in the entire 2019. Processed cases totalled 1,548 until the end of July and 3,838 in 2019.

The STA is releasing charts showing relevant statistics regarding the numbers of illegal crossings and asylum seekers or those already granted international protection.

Number of illegal crossings of the border in the first eight months of 2020 and 2019 according to citizenship

Nationality           Number of crossings
                        2020       2019
Pakistan                2813       2360
Morocco                 2205        774
Afghanistan             1821       1071
Bangladesh               776        685
Algeria                  577       1440
Croatia                  403        217
Iraq                     332        562
Egypt                    200        161
Syria                    171        469
Iran                     163        504
other                    762       1653
total                 10,223       9896

Number of persons handed over to Slovenia's police and handed over by Slovenian authorities in the first eight months of 2020 and 2019

                Handed over to                Handed over to
               Slovenian police             foreign authorities

country            2019     2020              2019     2020
Italy              207      682                58       19
Austria             62       98                 9        6
Croatia             19       18              6457     6781
Hungary              3        6                 0        8
airport            177       86                20        9
total              468      890              6544     6823

Source: Police, Interior Ministry, Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants

18 Sep 2020, 11:53 AM

STA, 17 September 2020 - The government has prepared the draft of a new anti-corona stimulus package. Unofficial information suggests the furlough scheme will be extended for some industries, universal basic income brought back for sole traders and the health system shored up.

Information obtained by the STA shows that the furlough scheme, whose last possible extension under current law expires at the end of September, will be extended until the end of the year.

Employers in tourism, events industries and coach transportation who have seen their revenue decline by over 30% over last year would be eligible.

The government also appears ready to head appeals by freelancers, many of whom have complained for months that they have not received sufficient aid since the three-month income support scheme expires in June.

The latest proposal involves a universal basic income for the self-employed who cannot perform their activities or whose business has declined by over 40% on last year.

From October through December they would be eligible for a EUR 700 universal basic income plus a waiver of social security contributions.

When a self-employed person would be ordered to quarantine, they would receive an income support of EUR 350.

The parents of children up to grade 5 who are ordered to quarantine would be entitled to a compensation equalling 80% of pay.

Several measures reportedly target the health system, most notably a provision under which additional funding would be secured for a special tender for specific health services where waiting times are currently the longest.

The national budget would finance one-month reserve of personal protective equipment for all public health institutions.

Health and social workers who work directly with Covid-19 patients would get a special 50% hourly bonus, according to the proposal.

The blueprint represent what would be the fifth omnibus legislative package designed to help the economy recover from coronavirus.

According to plans, social partners will be briefed about the plan at a session of the Economic and Social Council on Friday.

The latest statistics on coronavirus and Slovenia, and the latest police news on red, green and yellow list countries. All our stories on coronavirus and SloveniaCan I transit Slovenia? Find out from the police...

17 Sep 2020, 17:33 PM

STA, 17 September 2020 - A total of 12,230 Slovenian residents died in the first seven months of the year, which is 0.8% less than in the same period last year, the Statistics Office has reported. The number of deceased persons on the monthly basis was higher only in April and June.

More than 4,000 coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Slovenia so far, and 136 persons have died of Covid-19, but the epidemic has apparently not resulted in higher death figures in the first seven months year-on-year.

In the period, January was the month when most Slovenian residents died (1,971), and July was the month with the lowest number of deaths (1,566).

On the other hand, 10,617 children were born in Slovenia in the first seven months, which is 5.3% more than in the same period in 2019, preliminary data from the Statistics Office show.

Last year, a total of 2,.588 Slovenian residents died, which was 0.5% more than in 2018. Men died at the average age of 73.2, and women at the average age of 82.1.

A boy born in 2020 may meanwhile expect to live to the age of 78.5, while the life expectancy for girls is 84.2.

More on this data

17 Sep 2020, 15:59 PM

Jump to the new rules

STA, 17 September 2020 - A total of 3,070 tests for the novel coronavirus were performed in Slovenia on Wednesday, resulting in 104 confirmed positive cases, the fourth-highest daily figure so far. One fatality was recorded, bringing the overall death toll to 136, the latest government figures show. The number of active cases has exceeded 1,000 for the first time.

A total of 62 persons were in Slovenian hospitals yesterday for Covid-19, 11 of them requiring intensive care. One person was discharged from hospital, the government said on Twitter.

Among the newly confirmed infected persons, three are employees in care homes and eight are healthcare workers, while no new infections were confirmed among residents of care homes.

According to the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org, the number of total confirmed cases has exceeded 4,000, and the number of active cases has exceeded 1,000, standing at 1,026.

This is the first time that the number of active cases has cracked 1,000, while the peak number during the first wave was 609, recorded on 3 April. In the second wave, this number was exceeded on 9 September, the tracker site shows.

The municipality of Ljubljana accounts for the most of yesterday's cases (29), and there are currently 205 active cases in the capital.

Age-wise, most new infections (26) were recorded in the 35-44 age group, followed by the 45-54 age group (21), and the 25-34 age group (15).

A total of 191,413 tests for the novel coronavirus have been performed so far in Slovenia, the nation of two million people.

The latest statistics on coronavirus and Slovenia, and the latest police news on red, green and yellow list countries. All our stories on coronavirus and SloveniaCan I transit Slovenia? Find out from the police...

Govt announces stricter mask rules, temperature screenings, bar curfew

STA, 17 September 2020 - Responding to a sharp rise in new Covid-19 cases, the government has tightened rules for wearing face masks outdoors and at schools, introduced temperature screenings at the workplace and limited opening hours or bars and restaurants, conavirus spokesperson Jelko Kacin told the press after Thursday's government session.

Wearing masks in the open-air will apply as of Saturday at places frequented by many people such as marketplaces and city centres.

The compulsory face mask wearing in the classroom will apply to primary school children from 7th class on, who now wear them only in shared school areas.

The rule will also apply to secondary school pupils and students, as well as to teachers in all classes, including at kindergartens.

"The assessment of the epidemiological situation shows this measure could significantly contribute to schools continuing to function without any special disturbances."

As of next week, changes to working hours of bars and restaurants will enter into force, expectedly to be limited to between 6am and 10pm, Kacin also said.

The OZS chamber of small business expressed opposition to this measure yesterday, arguing such curbs would further aggravate the situation in this line of business.

The OZS believes that closing bars and restaurants at 10pm will result in more uncontrolled socialising as people find alternative meeting places where they will not necessarily observe the recommended precautionary measures.

The government also decided today that upon entering their workplace, workers as well as visitors will have to have their body temperature taken, but it is not yet known when the measure will kick in.

The government also plans to change legislation to allow workers being on a sick leave for up to three days without having to visit the doctor.

Also in the pipeline are changes governing entry to Slovenia should the coronavirus situation escalate in neighbouring and other countries.

The government is also working on measures that would be put in place after the EU reaches a deal on the movement of people within the union, said Kacin.

The agreement could entail switching from quarantine to testing to be able to travel within the EU and could be reached in the middle of next week.

The government moreover prepared several measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus that would be implemented if the number of new cases continues to rise.

They concern public transport services, shops, pharmacies, post offices, banks and healthcare establishments in a bid to protect vulnerable groups, said Kacin.

The Infrastructure Ministry is for instance working on a regulation to allow certain vulnerable groups to use public transport in dedicated hours.

The measure would be introduced when the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) assessed public transport was no longer safe, the spokesperson explained.

The number of people allowed to assemble could also be further limited, from the current ten to expectedly six, as some countries have already done, said Kacin.

It has not yet been decided when the measure would be implemented.

The government also issued a number of recommendations, ranging from distance work and organising public events without catering to doing shopping only when really needed and postponing parties or celebrations of various anniversaries.

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