STA, 2 December - Given the poor epidemiological situation and the fact that almost half of the vouchers issued this year to help the hospitality, tourism, sports and culture sectors have not been cashed in yet, the government decided on Thursday to extend their validity until the end of June 2022.
The 2021 vouchers were introduced with an emergency law for tourism and associated sectors and awarded to all those who had a permanent residence in Slovenia on 30 June.
Adults received EUR 100 and under 18-year-olds EUR 50 for services offered by the hospitality, tourism, sport and culture sectors.
In line with the law, the vouchers were to expire on 31 December but the government was also given the option to extend their validity by six months.
The cabinet believes that the extension will lift the pressure off tourism and other facilities in the country in the final month of the year and thus contribute to reducing the number of infections, the Economy Ministry said after the government's session.
The extension of the vouchers will also boost demand for the various services in the first half of next year, it added.
The vouchers were activated on 16 July and until 22 November, little more than half of them were redeemed, while EUR 95.9 million in vouchers were still unused.
The government had also proposed the extension of last year's tourism vouchers until the end of June 2022 in a bill on additional measures for curbing the epidemic and its consequences, which is yet to be discussed by parliament.
STA, 2 December 2021 - Due to the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the government decreed that from today, passengers arriving in Slovenia from seven countries in southern Africa are required to take three PCR tests during their mandatory 10-day quarantine, which was imposed already on Saturday.
The government amended the rules for entering the country at a correspondence session yesterday and the decree, published in the Official Journal on Wednesday evening, entered into force on Thursday.
A 10-day quarantine remains mandatory for persons arriving to Slovenia who reside in South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe, or persons who have visited those countries in the 14 days before entering Slovenia. Foreigners without residence in Slovenia arriving from these countries are banned from entry.
The government has now imposed an additional rule requiring that these arrivals take three PCR tests after being ordered to quarantine at home.
They need to take a PCR test upon entering Slovenia and repeat it on the 5th and 10th days while quarantining at home, but cannot end the mandatory quarantine early regardless of the test result.
Those who had been in the African countries for 14 days before the new regulation came into force must report to emergency services by dialling the number 113, after which they will be ordered to quarantine at home for 10 days. They are required to take a PCR test right after making the call and on the final day of quarantine.
Nineteen people have already been put in the 10-day quarantine due to arrivals from areas at risk. One person received a quarantine order at the airport upon arrival, while 18 cases were self-reported, the police told the STA.
After the mandatory 10-day quarantine was imposed on Saturday, five people were quarantined on the same day, while four more followed on Sunday, six on Monday, one on Tuesday and two on Wednesday.
The government also recommends for travellers from countries that are not on the list but where Omicron has been confirmed to take a rapid test on arriving in Slovenia.
However, no other restrictions are planned at the moment for entry to Slovenia from EU countries where Omicron has been detected, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told the press today.
He noted that Health Minister Janez Poklukar was discussing the matter with his EU counterparts. "I must say that at this point I see no need to beef up measures within the Schengen zone or the EU," he said after today's EU-Western Balkans ministerial in Brdo pri Kranju.
STA, 1 December - Due to the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the government decreed today that passengers arriving in Slovenia from seven countries in southern Africa are required to take three PCR tests during mandatory 10-day quarantine.
The government imposed mandatory self-isolation on persons residing in or visiting South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe in the past 14 days before entering Slovenia on Saturday. Foreigners without residence in Slovenia arriving from those countries are banned from entry.
The government has now imposed an additional rule requiring of those arrivals to take a PCR test on entering Slovenia and repeat it on the 5th and 10th day after being ordered to self-isolate at home. They cannot end the mandatory self-isolation early regardless of the test result.
Those who had been in the countries for 14 days before the new regulation came into force must report to emergency services by dialling the number 113, after which they will be ordered to self-isolate at home for 10 days. They are required to take a PCR test right after making the call and on the final day of self-isolation.
The government also recommends for travellers from countries not on the list but where Omicron has been confirmed to take a rapid test on arriving in Slovenia.
STA, 1 December 2021 - Electronic vignettes will soon fully replace toll stickers, as annual e-vignettes for cars and semi-annual e-vignettes for motorbikes are available as of today, with weekly and monthly e-vignettes to follow in February 2022. Prices remain unchanged, while the annual vignette is no longer be linked to the calendar year.
The existing annual sticker vignettes remain valid up to 31 January 2022, and weekly and monthly vignettes in sticker form will also continue to be used until that date.
As of 1 February, the sticker vignettes will be discontinued in full, as the use of all toll roads in Slovenia will be possible only with an electronic vignette.
During the validity period of their electronic vignette, drivers will be able to use motorways and expressways without any restrictions, the state-run motorway company DARS has said.
A new feature is also being introduced - the validity of the annual e-vignette will no longer be limited to the calendar year. Instead, it will be valid for exactly one year, starting with the date that drivers choose themselves by buying the e-vignette.
All types of e-vignettes will be available for purchase up to 30 days before the selected validity date, and will be linked to the vehicle registration number.
DARS announced that it will be the drivers' responsibility to correctly upload their registration number to the e-tolling system when purchasing an e-vignette, be it online or during a purchase at an actual point of sale.
They recommend that vignette buyers write down their registration number or take their registration certificates with them. If the number in the system does not match the vehicle registration number, the toll will not be paid, which is an offence punishable by a fine, DARS warned.
Vehicle registration numbers will be monitored by cameras installed all along the Slovenian motorway network, at checkpoints and in toll enforcement vehicles.
Once the system will have verified the vehicle for which the e-vignette has been purchased, this information will be immediately deleted and no data will remain in the system, DARS said.
Use motorways and expressways in Slovenia without a valid (electronic) vignette is a violation punishable by a fine of EUR 300.
STA, 27 November 2021 - The government has made a few changes to Covid restrictions, including detailing rules for open-air Christmas fairs, which will have to be fenced off with separate entrances and exits.
The changed regulation, adopted by the government late on Friday, also provides that food and drinks at open-air stalls can be served provided that the largest number of customers allowed on the premises on the same time is clearly marked at the entrance.
Other provisions in that section of the regulation remain unchanged, which means that existing restrictions on the number of customers as well as on their being required to meet the reconvalescent-vaccinated-tested (PCT) rule still apply.
The changes come after Christmas fairs in some cities, including Ljubljana and Maribor, have already opened. While the area around the fair in Maribor is already fenced, Ljubljana will need to follow suit as well as the new measure applies from today.
Meanwhile, the PCT rule will no longer be required for customers accepting mail and package deliveries, except at post offices. The couriers and postal carriers will still need to meet the PCT requirement.
Other changes pertain to self-testing of school children and students, including one saying that the test counts as meeting the PCT rule in collective exercise of religious freedom.
Music school has been added to extra-curricular activities.
Self-testing at home has also been imposed for children who are placed in educational institutions because on the unsuitable conditions in their home environment.
The right to free screening with rapid-antigen tests is being limited to persons with temporary or permanent residence in Slovenia, those employed with employers based in Slovenia and diplomatic representatives to the country.
STA, 27 November 2021 - Travellers arriving in Slovenia from areas with the new coronavirus variant that the WHO has declared to be of concern face mandatory quarantine on arriving in Slovenia starting from Saturday under a decision taken by the government last night. Entry is banned to foreigners without a residence permit in Slovenia arriving from those areas.
The list of areas and countries with the new variant B.1.1.529, named Omicron by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is being published by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ). Those are currently South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Under the new government regulation, a 10-day quarantine will be imposed on arrivals residing in those countries or areas or visiting those countries or areas in the past 14 days before entering Slovenia.
The quarantine cannot be ended early and on the 11th day the quarantined persons need to take a PCR test. If the test is positive the same protocol applies as to all other persons who have tested positive.
Those who had been to the areas identified with high risk for the new variant in the 14 days before the new regulation came into force need to report by dialling the number 113. They will then be ordered to quarantine at home for 10 days.
According to the NIJZ, the new variant, first detected in South Africa and thought to be more infectious than those so far known, has not yet been detected in Slovenia.
STA, 26 November 2021- Due to a new Covid-19 variant detected in South Africa, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry advises Slovenians who are currently in South Africa to return home as soon as possible and monitor the situation, as increasingly many countries are introducing restrictions for passengers arriving from the area.
Passengers planning a trip to countries where the new B.1.1.529 variant of the virus has been detected are advised to postpone or cancel non-essential trips.
The Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU called a meeting of the EU crisis response mechanism for this afternoon to agree on a joint response of members states to the new virus strain, the ministry said.
The situation with the new variant is being monitored, it added.
Some EU countries have already cancelled flights from the south of Africa because of the new strain and introduced additional measures for passengers entering the EU. Some have already banned entry to their country from the area for non-EU citizens and introduced an obligatory PCR test and a quarantine for their citizens.
STA, 26 November 2021 - Holiday season is starting in Slovenian towns as hundreds of thousands of lights will be lit and Christmas fairs launched in major towns on Friday and Saturday. However, due to the epidemiological situation no mass events will be held on the occasion.
Christmas lights will be switched on in Ljubljana and Maribor today, and just like last year the exact time has not be announced to avoid crowd.
In the capital, as many as 50 kilometres of lights will be switched on as part of a holiday decoration designed by Urban Modic, this year celebrating the importance of community and harmony.
The Christmas market is also opening tonight, and will this year expand to the Stritarjeva Street, leading up to the Town Hall.
As customary, a straw nativity scene will be on display on the Ljubljanica riverbank, the Zvezda Park will be adorned with lanterns made by primary school pupils, and citizens and visitors will decorate 79 green trees on four streets in the city centre.
Five concerts are planned in December but it is not clear yet how they will be carried out. Mayor Zoran Janković proposes visitors to be either reconvalescent or vaccinated, but he still needs a green light from the National Institute of Public Health for the move.
In Slovenia's second largest city, Maribor, the holiday magic will culminate in the Main Square and the Leon Štukelj Square. The Main Square will this year feature a festive merry-go-round, just like the one that was featured in a holiday commercial recently shot in the city centre.
Light sculptures called Lumina will greet visitors in city streets and squares, and urban forest photo points will be set up around the city.
Elf City will open on Friday as well, offering events and workshops throughout December. Father Frost will ride around the city in his carriage between 14 and 21 December.
The festive season in the coastal town of Izola will also start on Friday, while in Koper Christmas lights will be switched on on Saturday. In both towns open-air ice skating rinks will open and a number of events are planned for December.
Other towns around Slovenia will slip into the holiday mood this weekend or the next, with the Mozirski Gaj park in Mozirje featuring a record 1,7 million Christmas lights this year.
In Nova Gorica, the lights will be turned on next Friday. The town will organise a book fair, while visitors will be able to produce electricity for lighting up Christmas trees by riding a bike.
Murska Sobota in the north-east has cancelled all festive events because of the epidemic but it will still turn on almost 60,000 lights on the eve of St Nicolas Day.
STA, 11 November 2021 - All passengers over the age of 12 will have to produce proof of vaccination, reconvalescence or testing on entry to Slovenia as of 15 November, the government decided on Thursday. The age limit has been 15 so far and the change brings it in line with the overall Covid pass mandate requirements in the country.
The government decree also specifies that self-testing is not sufficient proof to enter Slovenia. Passengers will need an official rapid test done no more than 48 hours before entry, or a PCR test done within 72 hours before entry.
STA, 3 November 2021 - The upgrade of a 26-kilometre railway section between Zidani Most and Celje in eastern Slovenia was declared completed at a ceremony on Wednesday which heard the project cost EUR 230 million, which is about EUR 50 million less that the initial cost estimate.
Addressing the ceremony in Celje, Aleš Mihelič, a state secretary at the Infrastructure Ministry, said the investment tackled one of the weak points on the national rail network that had not been able to support heavy and long train compositions.
"The upgrade has increased the throughput, shortened travel times and made railway transport more comfortable and, above all, safer," the official said.
As a result, the capacity of what this section of the main railway between the Zidani Most junction and the Šentilj crossing with Austria has increased from 328 to 354 trains per day.
The project, for which Slovenia obtained EUR 90 million in EU funds, also involved modernisation of related infrastructure, including bridges, grade-separated crossings, and renovation of railway stations in Celje, Laško and Rimske Toplice.
Mihelič also noted the EUR 90 million EU-subsidised project underway to upgrade the Pragersko rail junction, one of the main rail hubs in the country.
He said the government was intent on investing a great deal of attention and money to make the railways more competitive with the motorway and road network.
As soon as the core rail network is modernised up to the standard seen in advanced countries, the government is also planning to focus on regional railways and new competitive rail links.
The Infrastructure Ministry has been working on a "visionary and ambitious" plan of investment into rail infrastructure for the next 30 years, which Mihelič indicated would cost about EUR 12 billion. Half a million euro has been ringfenced for the purpose in each of the budgets for the next two years.
STA, 3 November 2021 - The increasing demand for flights between Ljubljana and Belgrade has prompted Air Serbia to expand the number of flights by two to nine a week as of 14 November, the Ex-Yu Aviation portal has announced.
Fraport Slovenija, the operator of the Ljubljana airport, said that 13 airlines offered 14 direct air links to 12 countries around the world in the winter season, which started last weekend and which will last until 26 March 2022.
As of 14 November, Air Serbia, the flag carrier of Serbia, will add additional flights on Fridays and Sundays to the existing schedule of one flight from Ljubljana to Belgrade a day.
Brussels Airlines, which operates four flights a week from the Ljubljana airport, will switch to six flights a week in December, in addition to two flights a week to the Charleroi airport operated by the budget carrier Wizz Air.
Flydubai flies three times a week to Dubai, Turkish Airlines five times a week to Istanbul, and EasyJet four times a week to London Gatwick. As of mid-December, Wizz Air will operate flights from Ljubljana to London Luton three times a week.
Currently, the largest number of flights from the Ljubljana airport in a week is operated by Lufthansa, which flies to Frankfurt two times a day.
Aeroflot flies to Moscow three times a week, Air France offers eleven flights a week to Paris, Air Montenegro flies twice a week to Podgorica, LOT Polish Airlines six times a week to Warsaw, and Swiss Air Lines four times a week to Zürich.