STA, 26 October 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša said after holding talks with Foreign Minister Anže Logar and Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik, who had not waited for their coronavirus test results in isolation, that he was not asking them to resign, as the government was working around the clock and was thus making mistakes.
"I demand from no one to resign. The government works 24 hours a day and also makes mistakes. This happens in particular because each minister is performing a dual job," Janša said on Monday in an answer to a question from POP TV.
The prime minister also said in a tweet, to which he attached a screenshot of journalist questions, that the job of a minister was stressful and that they did not receive bonuses. "These are received by those who, without masks on their faces, criticise from a full studio someone without [a mask]".
Logar's positive test was confirmed on Friday after he was routinely tested as he returned from abroad, while the media report that he met in the National Gallery its director Barbara Jaki while waiting for the test results.
According to government Covid-19 spokesman Jelko Kacin, Logar was scheduled to be present at the event after the testing.
Immediately after being informed about testing positive, he stopped all his activities, and the entire office of the foreign minister stopped its activities as well, he added.
Kacin also said that Logar had not had any symptoms and that he had been routinely tested. "No one had expected that he would be positive, but it turned out that he was. He has been in isolation since," he added.
The media have also reported that Minister Koritnik did not wait for his preventive coronavirus test result in isolation either, and that he visited a beauty salon. His test has turned out to be negative.
Koritnik apologised in a written statement today, saying that it was ill-advised of him "not to wait in the car in front of the salon". He claims he did not put anyone at risk or violated the measures and epidemiological recommendations valid at the time.
The minister added that he believed the preventive test was a sign of his responsible behaviour towards his colleagues and all others in his surroundings.
Koritnik said he was following the expert recommendation that a preventive test without symptoms or risky contacts does not require self-isolation.
Kacin also said that Interior Minister Aleš Hojs had been tested today after an infection had been detected among his closest aides.
The test is negative and Hojs returns to his job today, Kacin said, adding that the minister had been in self-isolation while waiting for the results.
MPs meanwhile said later today that missteps regarding compliance with preventive measures could be made by anyone, however decision-makers, putting in place those measures, should respect them and set an example for citizens to follow.
Opposition parties also mostly acknowledged that to err was human, but also went harsher on Logar and Koritnik's conduct as well as on Milan Krek, the head of the National Institute of Public Health, who recently failed to wear a mask while pumping gas at a filling station.
The Left's leader Luka Mesec was most critical, finding it outrageous that the prime minister did not even apologise, let alone dismiss these officials. He also noted that Janša recently blamed the worsening epidemiologic situation on media and the opposition, urging the government to step down.
Marjan Šarec, the previous prime minister and head of his eponymous party LMŠ, said that such missteps undermined the credibility of the measures and pointed to what he sees as the two-faced nature of the current government, which showed no remorse.
Such missteps should be as rare as possible among public figures, who should be role models for citizens, said Predrag Baković, a SocDems MP. Andrej Rajh of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) pointed out that when such missteps were as a common occurrence as among government officials, the epidemiological situation became alarming.
Meanwhile, the National Party (SNS) head Zmago Jeličič considers reports about the missteps rivalry between various media in catching officials flouting the rules. He also said that SocDems leader Tanja Fajon had not always been wearing a mask, however that had not been in focus on television.
Anja Bah Žibert of the ruling Democrats (SDS) said that the party was heeding the measures non-stop and had never been urging citizens to flout them. Gregor Perič of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) said that such missteps could occur to anyone, however they should be avoided as much as possible.