STA, 17 January 2022 - UPDATED 21:30 Employees in health, social affairs and education as well as students will be exempted from quarantine under certain conditions as of Wednesday. Entire classes will be quarantined only if more than 30% of students are infected in the span of 14 days, the government decided at a correspondence session on Monday.
Under the new quarantine rules, revised at the initiative of the public health authorities, staff in health, social affairs and education will be also exempted from quarantine in the event of high-risk contact provided they test for coronavirus daily for a week and use a FFP2 face mask in the workplace.
If these essential workers have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus outside work, they must inform their employer about this and observe the same course of protective measures.
The same exemption will apply to pupils in primary school and students in secondary school or university who have been in contact with someone with Covid-19 in their educational environment - as long as they do daily rapid tests for a week while in school, but they will not be required to wear a FFP2 mask.
The only ones who will still be required to self-isolate are those who test positive.
Entire classes will be quarantined only if more than 30% of students of a single class test positive over the span of 14 days. This will also be the case in kindergartens.
The ongoing quarantine orders that have been issued or will have been issued before Wednesday will still have to be heeded according to the previous regime, Health Minister Janez Poklukar told a press conference after the government session.
The new quarantine exemptions come after concerns have been raised in schools and other institutions over either quarantine-related staff shortages or the number of classes switching to distance learning.
They add to the existing exemptions that have been in place since 10 January: people who have received a booster shot of a coronavirus vaccine, those who have been fully immunised and have recovered from Covid-19 or those who have recovered from the disease at least ten days ago and no longer than 45 days ago.
The latter exemptions have superiority over the new ones, Poklukar said, meaning, for example, that a teacher who has been jabbed with a booster will not be required to test daily for a week to be exempted from quarantine.
According to the latest data from the national tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik, which cites information from the Education Ministry, 31,735 primary school pupils or some 16% and 12,035 secondary school students or roughly 16% were quarantined on Friday due to high-risk contact.
The government also amended today a decree on exceptions to the Covid pass mandate under which under-12s do not have to comply with the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) rule.
The total of rapid antigen tests per month that are provided to pupils has increased to 20 in line with the new rules.
Presenting the updated rules, Slovenia's chief epidemiologist Mario Fafangel pointed out that more than 40,000 quarantines were ordered per week in the country, which put a lot of pressure on the system.
Epidemiologists agreed to the exemptions for some critical infrastructure sectors, as the large number of quarantines makes it very difficult to operate.
"Amending the quarantine rules at this point obviously increases the risk, but failing to ensure the functioning of critical infrastructure also poses a risk to people's health," Fafangel said.