STA, 17 September 2021 - The government has adopted changes to the Covid pass mandate under which state administration employees working from office will need to be either Covid-19 reconvalescent or vaccinated starting from 1 October. It has also added several further exemptions to the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) rule, lifting the age cap from 12 to 15 years.
The decision, taken by the correspondence session last night, means that testing will no longer be accepted for state administration employees in workplace as an alternative to vaccination or recent recovery from Covid-19 starting from 1 October.
Meanwhile, starting from Saturday, exemption from the PCT rule is being extended from children under 12 years of age to those younger than 15.
In addition to those who drop off or pick up young children in school and students on public transportation, the exemption is being extended to persons dropping off and picking up special needs children or elderly to care homes or day centres.
Presenting the changes today, Health Minister Janez Poklukar said that exemptions would also apply to users of health services when they get vaccinated against or tested for Covid.
A further exemption in the case of health services will be in cases of medical referrals labelled urgent or very fast, and in emergency social and family affairs cases.
After a call by the equality ombudsman yesterday, an exemption to the PTC rule will also apply to access to charities and other points providing basic necessities to people in need.
The PCT obligation will also not be mandatory for urgent supply with basic goods and necessities, providing public peace and order, security and defence as well as to petrol stations for persons engaged in international transport who leave the country within 12 hours.
The exemptions will also newly apply for recipients of registered mail when they need to accept the delivery in person to avoid legal consequences.
Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik said the new PC rule will only apply to the public administration in the narrow sense, that is government departments and their bodies, inspection services, police and army and administrative units, rather than the whole public sector.
The new rule will only apply to staff doing their job from the workplace. "Exempt are those who cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they will have the option of self-testing as an exception."
Koritnik said the aim of the measure was to prevent spread of infections at workplace and to ensure undisrupted functioning of the state administration.
"We aren't forcing any state administration employee to get vaccinated, we're not mandating compulsory vaccination, but we do want the measure to be an additional encouragement to get vaccinated," he said.
"All those who don't want to get vaccinated will theoretically be able to work from home if the nature and type of work and the work process make that possible."
If work cannot be organised from home, the employer will be able to take measures in accordance with the employment relationship legislation.
The new PC rule for public administration will kick in on 1 October, which should give all state administration bodies enough time to adapt and organise work and employees to get vaccinated.
To meet the new rule on 1 October, the first jab will be enough but only on the condition that the second is administered by 1 November.
Koritnik said the government was recommending employers to review risk assessment in view of the Covid epidemic and take measures accordingly.
Mateja Logar, the head of Covid-19 advisors to the government, said they had proposed introducing PC rule for all citizens when two thirds of available ICU beds for Covid patients were filed.
The government's decision to start with the PC rule in the state administration was an additional decision, she said.
But she believes the PC rule will likely need to be expanded to other groups of population as well.