22 Jan 2021, 15:07 PM

STA, 22 January 2021 - The epidemiological curve continues to flatten in Slovenia, as 1,439 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in 11,149 PCR and rapid tests on Thursday, a slight decrease both on the day before and in weekly comparison. Another 25 deaths were recorded, according to fresh government data.

A total of 1,140 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, 19 fewer than the day before, while 185 were in intensive care, two more than the day before. 95 patients recovered and were discharged from hospital, the same as the day before, while 25 patients died, two fewer than on Wednesday.

21 persons died in hospitals and four in care homes, said government Covid-19 spokesperson Maja Bratuša. Slovenia's death toll currently stands at 3,309.

Out of the 4,872 PCR tests 22.9% came back positive, while the share of positive tests among the 6,277 rapid tests was 5.2%. The share of positive PCR tests was down compared to Wednesday when it stood at 24.2%, while the positivity rate for rapid tests was up from 4.1% on Wednesday.

Over the last seven days 407 people per 100,000 citizens became infected, which is down from 424 on Wednesday, said Bratuša.

The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents has fallen to 893, with central Slovenia having the lowest figure for the first time, at 777.

In Ljubljana, 119 new infections were confirmed on Thursday, and 55 in Maribor.

The seven-day average of new daily cases decreased slightly to 1,220, show data released by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

The latest figures bring the total number of confirmed infections in the country since the start of the epidemic to 155,752, according to the NIJZ, which estimates that 18,908 of them are currently active.


Slovenian contact tracing app upgraded with many new features

STA, 22 January 2021 - The Slovenian Covid-19 contact tracing app on mobile devices, launched by the Public Administration Ministry last summer as a measure to contain the spread of coronavirus, has been upgraded to include many new features, including cross-border exchange of tracing keys.

The upgraded #OstaniZdrav (#StayWell) app is available as of Friday for Android devices, and it is expected to be available for Apple devices in a few days at the latest.

Those who already have the app will need to upgrade it if their devices do not upgrade applications automatically, the ministry said, adding that the new app had many new features.

Minister Boštjan Koritnik, who has himself been infected with coronavirus recently, said that the app was very useful, even though it had turned out in his case that it could not prevent infection.

Among other things, the upgraded version enables cross-border exchange of tracing keys, entry of the date when Covid-19 symptoms appeared and, unlike the original German app, the new intermediate orange level of risk.

Koritnik added that the upgraded app also featured a link to a guide in sign language, while it would also update the situation more frequently - six times in 24 hours, and not only once a day as it has so far.

Also added to the app is a link to the e-Administration portal so that users can acquire quarantine orders, and a link to the online form for getting assigned a 10-digit tracing codes for users who tested positive.

"Epidemiologists are sometimes not able to call in time and provide codes, and this option does not even exist in rapid tests. For this reason codes may from now on be obtained via the shortcut that takes you to the website of the National Public Health Institute," said State Secretary Peter Geršak.

If the positive test is already in the database, users may get a code by SMS after entering their information, he added.

Geršak noted that the cross-border exchange of tracing keys would enable the use of the app abroad without the need to download the national app of the foreign country.

An EU-level server has been established for the exchange of data from the national apps and their back end systems, so that risk levels could be calculated, he added.

The state secretary said that this interoperability feature would be enabled in Slovenia in a week to ten days.

Once they open the app, the users will see only Slovenia in the cross-border section, but the other EU member states participating in the data exchange will be gradually added.

The ministry reiterated that the app alone did not protect people from getting infected with coronavirus, and that it was just another accessory in the fight against the epidemic.

Almost 370,000 owners of mobile devices in Slovenia have so far downloaded the app, which is more than a quarter of the active population in the country, the latest data show.

The ministry noted that not every person who gets infected enters the code in their application, either because they do not receive it, do not know how to enter it, or simply do not want to enter it and inform others about their condition.

22 Jan 2021, 11:53 AM

STA, 21 January 2021 - Education Minister Simona Kustec presented on Thursday detailed rules for next week's reopening of kindergartens and schools for the first three grades in nine out of the 12 Slovenian regions. She said teachers would have to wear masks at all times, children will have to mask up only outside their classrooms or their bubbles.

Children from one group will form bubbles and will not be in contact with other groups. The size of the groups will be determined by head teachers.

Children will stay in their classrooms during breaks as well and will also eat lunch there. They will use the gym one group at a time.

Pupils who are advised against attending school for health reasons will continue to do schoolwork at home.

The state will provide additional masks to schools and kindergartens that will request this.

Obligatory coronavirus testing for staff will be performed on Monday and in-person classes will start on Tuesday.

Distance learning will remain in place for all other students, and for music schools. At universities, obligatory lab classes will also be allowed.

Prime Minister Janez Janša called for a safe return to schools on Twitter, noting that the government had followed the proposals of experts and the Constitutional Court despite having reservations.

The head of the Association of Head Teachers, Gregor Pečan, told the STA the partial reopening of schools had been expected given the government's criteria for easing restrictive measures. He said schools were familiar with model C of schooling, which will be in place, so he expects no problems.

According to him, the only thing that may be problematic is the testing of the staff, as a large number of people will need to be tested and the testing will be obligatory. "I know that some have reservations for some reason or another although this is a completely non-invasive procedure," he said.

Schools are preparing for the reopening and will start informing parents about this soon, he asserted.

Bojana Verdinek, the principal of the Prežihov Voranc primary school in Ravne na Koroškem, said she had mixed feelings about school reopening. "On the one hand we are looking forward to it, as it is high time, but on the other we are afraid of special restrictions and recommendations, as some of them cannot be implemented at the moment," she said.

In line with yesterday's government decision, all regions bar Posavska, Southeast Slovenia and Goriška will enter the red tier after a steady improvement over the last ten days that brought the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital below 1,200 and the seven-day rolling average of new daily cases below 1,350.

22 Jan 2021, 09:45 AM

STA, 22 January 2021 - Starting on Friday citizens of Slovenia and other EU and Schengen countries will be able to enter the country without quarantining if they are visiting to perform maintenance work on private property, to provide care or aid or to visit their child.

The government decided to expand the list of quarantine exceptions for travellers from red-listed countries Wednesday evening.

The list of exceptions for EU and Schengen citizens was expanded to allow quarantine-free entry to those providing care or aid to family members or other persons who need help, parents taking care of or visiting their children, those doing maintenance work on private property they own, lease or use in another country, as well as those dealing with threats to health, life or property. They must return no later than 12 hours after leaving Slovenia.

Since last week, owners of land near the border have been able to enter the country without having to quarantine. They must return immediately after completing their work.

All EU and Schengen countries are on Slovenia's red list, which means that persons travelling from there must self-isolate unless they provide a negative test result no older than 24 hours in the case of a rapid antigen test and no older than 48 hours in the case of a PCR test.

The only parts of the EU not on Slovenia's red list are the South-Aegean Islands, Crete, the Ionian Islands and the Greek region of Epirus. The red list also does not contain Norway, with the exception of the administrative units of Oslo, Rogaland, Trondelag and Viken.

The latest data on coronavirus and Slovenia

22 Jan 2021, 09:41 AM

STA, 21 January 2021 - The government has allowed galleries, museums and libraries to reopen starting from Saturday in the nine out of 12 Slovenian statistical regions with lower coronavirus infection rates.

The government adopted a decree on Thursday to extend a temporary ban on cultural and cinematographic services while adding galleries, museums and libraries as exceptions to the rule in the nine regions.

The new decree will be in force from 23 to 29 January. The exceptions apply to Gorenjska, Koroška, Obalno-Kraška, Osrednjeslovenska, Podravska, Pomurska, Primorsko-notranjska, Savinjska and Zasavska.

According to a press release issued after the government session, the existing exceptions that allow access to fenced outdoor cultural heritage sites without guided tours and contactless borrowing from libraries continue to apply in all regions.

All the institutions that are allowed to open need to ensure minimum contact with the visitors, social distancing rules and precautionary measures and instructions from the National Institute of Public Health pertaining to hand sanitising and airing or ventilation of premises.

Visitors are limited to one person per 30 square metres, or a single visitor when the premises are smaller.

Galleries, museums and libraries have been most recently closed since 9 January.

22 Jan 2021, 04:03 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

PM Janša congratulates US President Biden

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced late on Wednesday he had sent congratulations to the newly sworn-in US President Joseph Biden. "For those curious: Prime Minister Janez Janša congratulated today the new US President Joe Biden on taking the oath," wrote Janša, noting he did it the same way as in 2005 when as prime minister he congratulated the then US President George W. Bush. "Slovenia and the US were NATO allies then and are today," added Janša, who was one of the few world leaders who had not congratulated Biden on his election victory before the inauguration.

Pahor welcomes US rejoining Paris climate deal and WHO

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor welcomed the US's rejoining the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organisation under President Joe Biden. "Multilateralism has regained encouragement and value. This is important for Slovenia, the EU and the whole word," Pahor said on Twitter. Meanwhile, climatologist Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, commenting for the STA, assessed the US's return to the climate deal brought hope the agreement would actually start to be implemented.

1,445 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reported 1,445 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, a marked decrease over a week ago in what is a continuation of a declining trend. Government data show that out of 4,813 PCR tests, just over 24% came back positive, as did about 4% of 6,786 rapid antigen tests. Hospitalisations dropped by 19 to 1,159, 183 of whom were in intensive care. Another 27 patients with Covid-19 died to bring the death toll to 3,284, according to tracker site Covid-19 Sledilnik.

Some cultural institutions, shops to reopen in nine regions

LJUBLJANA - A new decree banning non-essential services will take effect on Saturday, expanding the list of exceptions to the ban in nine out of Slovenia's 12 regions that have lower infection rates to stalls selling farmers' produce, repair shops and shops offering children's goods. The government also allowed galleries, museums and libraries to reopen on Saturday in Gorenjska, Koroška, Obalno-Kraška, Osrednjeslovenska, Podravska, Pomurska, Primorsko-notranjska, Savinjska and Zasavska.

Ski resorts allowed to open in nine regions on Saturday

LJUBLJANA - Ski resorts in nine regions that have been moved to the red tier of coronavirus restrictions will be allowed to reopen on Saturday. All skiers except children under 12 and professional athletes, their coaches and their staff will have to produce negative coronavirus test results no older than 24 hours to hit the slopes and strict public health rules will have to be observed. Some of the resorts, such as Pohorje and Rogla, will have testing available on-site.

EUR 47m in budgetary funds to go for minimum wage rise

LJUBLJANA - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said the government would provide some EUR 47 million to help employers cover part of the minimum wage rise. The proposal to that effect will be included in the eighth economic stimulus bill, the draft of which the government reviewed today and could be in parliament in the middle of next week. The minister said the latest stimulus package was worth EUR 320 million. It will extend subsidies for furloughed workers and those on reduced hours.

Cabinet approves financial plans of pension and health funds

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed the 2021 financial plans of the ZPIZ public pension insurance fund and the ZZZS public health insurance fund, valued at EUR 6.2 billion and EUR 3.4 billion, respectively, with balanced revenue and expenditure. The pension fund's revenue and expenditure are by 4.4% higher than the estimate for 2020. Meanwhile, the health fund's revenue is 6.9% above the 2020 performance estimate, and expenditure is 3.1% higher than the 2020 performance estimate.

Brkan gets unanimous endorsement for EU Court judge prior to final vote

LJUBLJANA - Maja Brkan, the candidate for Slovenian judge on the General Court of the EU, was unanimously endorsed by the parliamentary Privileges and Credentials Commission, the final step before the National Assembly vote, where she needs 46 votes in the 90-member legislature. Brkan, an associate professor of EU law at Maastricht University's Faculty of Law, was put forward by President Borut Pahor following consultations with deputy groups.

Govt adopts bill to protect children in criminal procedure

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill to provide protection to children in criminal procedures either as victims, witnesses or perpetrators. It establishes a safe house where children will be interviewed in a neutral environment. The bill aims to create a comprehensive approach to interviews of victims and witness, and, under certain conditions, perpetrators as well. The bill also entails psychological support during interviews and physical exams, and long-term therapy for children.

Medicines agency finds rapid tests not risk to public health

LJUBLJANA - The Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices told the STA its inspections had so far not detected any risks to public health from the rapid antigen tests used for mass screening. The agency opted for the inspections after the reliability of the Chinese-made tests, purchased by the Health Ministry and supplied by Majbert Pharm, was questioned in the media. The agency carried out over a dozen checks at various community health centres. In some cases swabs had to be replaced.

Six institutions found breaching vaccination strategy

LJUBLJANA - A report by the health inspectorate about compliance with the national vaccination strategy shows that the strategy was not fully complied with in the vaccination of 297 persons at six health institutions between 27 December and 16 January. In most cases, individuals who were not on the priority list received the sixth dosage obtained from the multidose vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, initially registered for only five. The institutions, including the Ljubljana Oncology Institute, said they did not receive detailed instructions on how to administer the sixth jab.

Four new supervisors appointed at Telekom Slovenije

LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of state-owned telecoms operator Telekom Slovenije appointed four new members of the supervisory board and changed the articles of association. These are Iztok Čenoša, a director at the state-owned 2TDK, Marko Kerin, a director at rail operator Slovenske Železnice, Ljubljana School of Business and Economics lecturer Aleksander Igličar and lawyer Radovan Cerjak. All four will formally start their terms on 22 January. The appointments come after three Telekom supervisors resigned in October, whereupon the vacancies were filled by the Ljubljana District Court.

Pipistrel looks back on best business year yet

AJDOVŠČINA - The Ajdovščina-based ultralight aircraft maker Pipistrel did great last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Director and co-owner Ivo Boscarol told the STA the company posted a record high net profit of EUR 4.5 million on EUR 32 million in total revenue. The profit will be used for numerous new investments this year, including in China, where Pipistrel will launch a new subsidiary, with Boscarol expecting a major business deal in China starting at the end of the year.

Benčina Henigman takes over as new CEO of Sberbank

LJUBLJANA - Jana Benčina Henigman took over on 18 January as the new CEO of the Slovenian subsidiary of the Russian bank Sberbank, succeeding Gašpar Ogrisa-Martič, who concluded his term in November 2020 to assume new duties at the headquarters of Sberbank Europe in Vienna. Benčina Henigman will be in charge of corporate and investment banking, financial markets, legal affairs and human resources. The new CEO has more than 20 years of experience in banking as part of various groups.

Consumer confidence continues to improve

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumer confidence continued to improve at the monthly level in January, adding one percentage point on December 2020, mostly owing to an improvement in the outlook for household finances. However, the index is still 18 points below that in January 2020 and eight points lower than the long-term average. The biggest decline year-on-year was in the expectations about the state of the national economy.

Pahor receives charity workers to thank them

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received representatives of the humanitarian organisations associated in the National Forum of Humanitarian Organisations, thanking them and their volunteers for the important work in addressing people's distress, which has only increased during the epidemic. The epidemic has not spared anyone, all generations have been met with distress, each in its own way, the president told the press after the meeting at Presidential Palace.

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21 Jan 2021, 14:01 PM

STA, 21 January 2021 - A new decree banning non-essential services will take effect on Saturday, expanding the list of exceptions to the ban in nine Slovenian regions with the best epidemiological status. Stalls selling farmers' produce, workshops and shops offering children's products will be allowed to reopen there.

The government adopted the decree at Wednesday's session. The relaxations apply to Central Slovenia, Pomurska, Savinjska, Podravska, Gorenjska, Obalno-Kraška, Koroška, Zasavska and Primorsko-Notranjska regions.

Movable stalls selling farmers' produce, workshops providing repair and maintenance works for motor vehicles and bikes and specialised stores with a children's segment are permitted to reopen in these regions as of Saturday.

In the remaining three regions, the Goriška, Posavska and Southeast Slovenia, the current restrictions and exceptions remain in place, meaning only essential stores are allowed to be open along with the exceptions.

These include newsagents, hairdressers, cleaning services, medical pedicure, surveying services, individual counselling, chimney-sweep services and construction works with zero contact with clients.

Delivery services and in-person pick up are also exempted from the ban, however consuming food or beverages in public spaces is not allowed.

Economy Ministry State Secretary Simon Zajc told today's government briefing that the latest decree would be effective from Saturday to next Friday.

He also noted that the current cap on the number of customers remained in place. Only specialised stores, and not supermarkets, will be permitted to sell children's products from Saturday, he added.

If the current epidemiological trends continue, so will the relaxations, the state secretary said, expressing satisfaction that a recent drop in case and hospitalisation figures enabled certain activities to reopen.

Zajc also pointed out that efforts to monitor compliance with Covid rules in shops and other services had been intense and would continue to be so.

21 Jan 2021, 13:58 PM

STA, 21 January 2021 - Ski resorts in nine regions that have been moved to the red tier of coronavirus restrictions – Central Slovenia, Pomurska, Savinjska, Podravska, Gorenjska, Obalno-Kraška, Koroška, Zasavska and Primorsko-Notranjska – will enter the red tier will be allowed to reopen on Saturday. With few exceptions, skiers will have to produce a negative test result to hit the slopes and strict public health rules will have to be observed.

Under a decree adopted by the government last night, most ski resorts in the country will be able to reopen since the vast majority of Slovenia's ski resorts are in the nine regions that have been moved to the red tier.

All skiers except children under 12 and professional athletes, their coaches and their staff will have to produce negative tests no older than 24 hours. "This is necessary if we want the present trends to continue," according to Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec.

Ski resort managers may set up testing on site or simply require skiers to produce negative a test performed in Slovenia. If the situation continues to improve, the test requirement may be waived in the future.

Major skiing centres, including Pohorje, Rogla and Kope, will have testing available on-site. The Vogel ski resort will organise testing in Bohinjska Bistrica.

"I'm glad we are reopening ski lifts and that ski resorts can start operating in an organised fashion," the minister said.

Ski lift operators too said they were happy to be able to welcome visitors again.

Marprom, the company operating the Pohorje centre, said virtually all ski lifts and gondolas would operate on Saturday, so skiing will be possible all the way to the valley. Free coronavirus testing will be available on site between 8am and noon.

In gondolas, surgical masks will be required and only two skiers who are not from the same household will be able to ride together. Ski lifts will be occupied at half capacity.

Skiers are also urged to buy tickets online or at Petrol stations to avoid queuing at the site.

At Kope, all ski lifts will operate and testing will be available between 7am and 10am.

Aleksandra Fiorelli from the company operating ski lifts at Vogel told the STA all ski slopes would be ready by Saturday although she does not expect many skiers given the gloomy weather forecast.

She said the resort would adhere to all safety measures to help improve the epidemiological situation. "I hope we'll make it, so we can stay open until the end of the season," she said, noting that the Vogel resort had been open for just 14 days this season.

Slovenian ski resorts were briefly open in mid-December, but some decided to not do so since the ban on intra-municipal travel meant only locals could ski.

Skiing was again banned just before Christmas before resuming for a week after New Year's.

Luka Vrančič from the Krvavec resort said he was sorry that skiers missed out on truly ideal winter conditions in the last few weeks. The resort will open on Saturday but because of the weather not all ski lifts will be operational.

21 Jan 2021, 12:17 PM

STA, 20 January - Several Slovenian politicians have become the target of defamatory statements recently, reflecting heightened political tensions. Some officials have reported incidents to police, others are considering doing so.

In the latest in a series of such incidents, someone spray-painted the word "rat" on the fence gate of Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Karl Erjavec.

The photo of the gate was posted on Twitter by Marjan Šarec, the head of the eponymous opposition LMŠ party, who added a caption reading "we know who called people rats in the 1930s - here we go again, apparently".

DeSUS told the STA that Erjavec had reported the incident to the police, which have confirmed that the investigation has been launched.

A while ago an inscription reading "Lucifer" appeared on the pavement in front of Erjavec's house.

Such insulting or even threatening graffiti, messages or posters targeted at politicians have been a frequent occurrence lately, particularly since efforts to call a vote of no confidence in the government emerged.

Erjavec's bid to become PM-designate was withdrawn yesterday due to Covid-19 infections in parliament, however the opposition still plans to go ahead with the procedure when all MPs are able to vote in person.

Another target of recent political insults or threats has been Branko Simonovič, a DeSUS MP who decided not to contribute his signature to the now withdrawn no-confidence motion.

Posters have appeared on the coast, where Simonovič resides, showing photos of him and coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) MPs with a caption that seemed to be displaying a choice between freedom, symbolised by support for the no-confidence motion, and fear, illustrated with the swastika symbol.

There were also posters focusing on SMC MP Gregor Perič with an inscription reading "Hero or traitor?" that appeared in front of his home and at the coastal town of Izola.

In Ljubljana one could spot posters or fake election campaign adds for SMC MPs with the additional party acronym SDS, alluding to criticism that the SMC is bowing down to the ruling Democrats.

Various graffiti and posters targeting individual MPs emerged already last year. Prime Minister Janez Janša told commercial broadcaster Nova24TV on Sunday that he received some 100 death threats a day, mostly via social media platforms.

Between March, when his government was sworn in, and the end of 2020 the police recorded 18 cases involving threats against government representatives and persons who are in any way related to the government's work. In ten cases perpetrators have been found and some investigations are still ongoing.

21 Jan 2021, 12:06 PM

STA, 21 January 2021 - Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Janša announced late Wednesday evening that he had sent congratulations to the newly sworn-in US President Joseph Biden.

"For those curious: Prime Minister Janez Janša congratulated today the new US President Joe Biden on taking the oath," wrote Janša, highlighting that he did it the same way and in similar words as in 2005 when he, also as prime minister, congratulated the then US President George W. Bush.

"Slovenia and the US were NATO allies then and are today," he added.

Janša was one of the few world leaders who had not congratulated Biden on his election victory before yesterday's inauguration.

Before the election, he endorsed Donald Trump and said Biden "would be one of the weakest US presidents" if he wins.

When it was becoming clear that Biden had won, Janša reposted tweets by Trump and his supporters that made allegations about election fraud and stolen elections.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor congratulated Biden when the election results were released, calling for Slovenia and the US to stay friends and strong allies. Pahor reiterated his congratulations yesterday and wished Biden good luck.

21 Jan 2021, 08:50 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

Nine regions to enter red tier of restrictions on Monday

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Nine of Slovenia's twelve statistical regions will enter the red tier of coronavirus restrictions on Monday after new cases and hospital figures dropped below thresholds set in the exit strategy. Kindergartens and first three grades of primary school will reopen and teachers who will return to teaching in person will be tested on Monday, Prime Minister Janez Janša announced. The red tier also involves the reopening of museums, libraries and galleries, and businesses including car mechanics, technical goods stores, sports stores, florists and book shops. More on this story

Labour minister faces motion of no confidence

LJUBLJANA - Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Janez Cigler Kralj is facing a motion of no confidence from the opposition over the ministry's decision to grant funds to an NGO with close links to the minister, the STA has learnt. The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) has drafted the motion and has already sent it to several opposition parties. The news comes after it was revealed the ministry last year granted funds to Zavod Iskreni in an open call for funding supporting vulnerable groups in the epidemic. Cigler Kralj has worked there as a volunteer.

Logar to visit to Croatia Friday

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar announced his first official visit to Croatia for Friday with discussions to include the intention by Croatia and Italy to declare exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic Sea. The minister announced the visit as he attended today's session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee. He told MPs he was optimistic about a joint statement on cooperation in the Adriatic that the three countries are to sign. The countries' experts will meet in Rome on 29 January.

Slovenian ambassador writes to Austrian authorities over bilingual signs

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's ambassador to Austria Ksenija Škrilec has written to the Austrian authorities about the recent vandalising of bilingual signposts in the state of Carinthia, according to Foreign Minister Anže Logar, who told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee that Slovenia regretted and condemned the incident. Škrilec expressed the expectation that the Austrian authorities will condemn the incident, and investigate it.

MPs endorse govt declaring whole Hezbollah a terrorist organisation

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Police Committee debated the government declaring the Lebanon-based political party Hezbollah a criminal and terrorist organisation as a whole, with most of its members endorsing the decision. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Stanislav Raščan said that the ministry and the national security and intelligence agency SOVA had established that Hezbollah was a threat to international peace and security. Restrictive measures related to its operations are therefore sensible.

Coronavirus curve flattening

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 1,698 coronavirus infections from 11,308 tests on Tuesday as the seven-day average of new infections and hospitalisations fell below the thresholds set by the government to move from black to red tier where the easing of restrictions can start by regions. Government data show 1,178 patients were hospitalised with Covid-19 yesterday, including 181 in intensive care. Another 26 patients with Covid-19 died, to bring the overall death toll to 3,257.

Covid-19 vaccination rate in Slovenia currently at 2%

LJUBLJANA - A total of 42,410 people have so far been vaccinated against Covid-19 in Slovenia, about 2% of the population. Marta Grgič Vitek, the vaccination coordinator at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), the biggest problem at the moment is limited supplies and there is not enough vaccine for people over 80. Meanwhile, 36.3% of medical staff have received the first shot and at least 22% have recovered from Covid-19, so "we are close to 60%, which might suffice for collective immunity" in this group, she said.

Minister Koritnik tests positive for coronavirus

LJUBLJANA - Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Public Administration Ministry said. He is self-isolating and with mild Covid-19 symptoms but continues to work. At the end of last week Koritnik was in contact with a co-worker who later tested positive. The first test came back negative, but he was tested again after developing Covid-19 symptoms and the second test was positive.

Susan Falatko charge d'affaires at US Embassy in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Susan K. Falatko has again assumed the position of chargé d'affaires at the US Embassy in Slovenia following the departure of former Ambassador Lynda C. Blanchard. Falatko has been serving in Slovenia since June of 2019. "We have made great strides in expanding the US-Slovenia relationship in areas of mutual interest, creating new opportunities for us to work more closely together than ever to overcome the challenges ahead as Allies, partners, and friends," she was quoted as saying.

Twenty companies interested in investing in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The Economy Ministry has a list of 20 potential investors, foreign and domestic, who are considering investing in the country. They are planning ten major and just as many smaller investments. The ministry believes the pandemic could be an opportunity for Slovenia given its developed infrastructure and skilled labour. The ministry is currently processing four applicants under the investment promotion act.

Employers oppose subsidised rise in minimum wage

LJUBLJANA - The Employers' Association voiced its opposition to the Labour Ministry's proposal to partly cover the minimum wage rise for employers for a limited period of time since it thinks such a measure would offset less than 40% of the increase in labour costs. The organisation urged the government to come up with a solution that would be better at mitigating the impact of the rise as part of the next stimulus package.

Unions complain to EU Commission about state of social dialogue

LJUBLJANA - Six major trade union associations have written to the European Commission to warn about the "worrying state" of social dialogue in Slovenia. They claim that an increasing number of decisions affecting workers and employers are being taken without social dialogue, with the last straw being a provision on forced retirement. They said the provision paved the way for "arbitrary and, in our opinion, discriminatory treatment of older workers".

AmCham event discusses post-epidemic recovery

LJUBLJANA - A virtual AmCham Slovenia business breakfast heard the Slovenian economy had been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis, and but was kept afloat by state aid and was now waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek told the event the situation could improve with the arrival of spring, but said vaccination alone would not end the health crisis, as protective measures need to be respected too. Unlike Počivalšek, most participants believe economic cooperation with the US will improve under the Joe Biden administration.

Priceless 18th century presentation of Slovenian lands issued in book

LJUBLJANA - A priceless presentation of geographical, geological and ethnographic features of Slovenian lands in the 18th century by Belsazar Hacquet, a Carniolan physician of French descent, has been issued in Slovenian. It is the first out of four volumes of Oryctographia Carniolica, which features the first known image of Mt Triglav. Hacquet presents the physical geography of Carniola, Istria and part of the neighbouring lands in text, maps and illustrations.

Slovenia open main round at handball worlds with a win

CAIRO, Egypt Slovenia made their first step towards the quarter-finals at the World Men's Handball Championship in Egypt with a convincing 10-goal win against North Macedonia in the first match of the main round. The top scorer in Slovenia's ranks was Dragan Gajić with seven goals. The true challenge for Slovenia is only to come as they play the group-leading Sweden on Friday, before they wrap up the main round against the hosts Egypt on Sunday.

Police warn of increase in cases of child sexual abuse

LJUBLJANA - The police conducted several house searches as part of an investigation into the dissemination of images of sexual abuse of very young children. Eight men are being investigated, one with a history of similar crimes. The contents seized by the Ljubljana, Koper and Maribor police administrations show children between six months and two years of age being abused by adults.

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20 Jan 2021, 22:14 PM

STA, 20 January 2021 - Nine of Slovenia's twelve statistical regions will enter the red tier of coronavirus restrictions on Monday after new cases and hospital figures dropped below thresholds set in the exit strategy, the government decided on Wednesday.

This means kindergartens and first three grades of primary school will reopen, with schools starting with an adjusted system that involves shorter school hours, smaller classes and strict adherence to restrictions.

All teachers who will return to teaching in person will be tested on Monday so that schools will actually open on Tuesday, Prime Minister Janez Janša said, adding that there was plenty of time to sort out the logistics.

The red tier also involves the reopening of museums, libraries and galleries in these regions as well as businesses including car mechanics, technical goods stores, sports stores, florists and book shops.

The details of which businesses will reopen will be hashed out by individual ministries tomorrow.

All regions bar Posavska, South-Eastern Slovenia and Goriška will enter the red tier after a steady improvement over the last ten days that brought the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital below 1,200 and the seven-day rolling average of new daily cases below 1,350.

Janša said it was important to follow the rules strictly and that inspections will be stepped up. If the positive trends continue, the remaining three regions will be able enter the red tier shortly, he said.

Calls for the reopening of schools and full opening of kindergartens have been getting louder in recent days since most kids have been schooled remotely for nearly three months and kindergartens were only open for the children of parents who could not work from home.

Businesses have likewise urged the government to relax measures, arguing that despite generous stimulus measures, many were running out of reserves and would have to shut down permanently if they are not allowed to open soon.

Janša however warned today that the situation remained serious. "We don't want to tighten the measures that we are relaxing now... Our joint efforts will determine whether the risk we are taking with the relaxation was prudent," he said.

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