Updated at 17:25, 8 July
RTV Slovenia reports that the government is now limiting most gatherings to no more than 50 people, and that all meeings and parties for between 10 and 50 people will only be allowed in the organiser has everyone’s details - names, addresses and phone numbers - and keeps them for at least a month. The restriction will apply to private events, including weddings.
Changes to the ban on gatherings do not apply however to the number of people in restaurants and pubs or on buses. Church masses are allowed.
Sports and cultural events with up to 500 people are still possible if there is a police presence and the seating order is known.
Meanwhile, STA reports that the government has amended the border regime in force for passengers arriving in Slovenia from Covid-19 red-coded countries. As a result, only the Obrežje border crossing with Croatia is open around the clock for arrivals who are required to quarantine since last midnight.
Under amendments to its decree adopted by the government late last night, quarantine orders will be handed daily only between 6am and 10pm at the Gruškovje, Obrežje, Metlika and Jelšane crossings on the border with Croatia, Pince on the border with Hungary and Ljubljana airport.
Meanwhile, quarantine orders for arrivals who come from the Covid-19 high-risk countries coded red will continue to be handed around the clock at the Obrežje crossing.
At checkpoints on the border with Austria and Italy and at airports in Maribor and Portorož police will collect data on passengers, referring them to the Health Ministry, which will hand quarantine orders at the address of residence or where the person will be quarantined in Slovenia.
Quarantine orders are being handed at the border since Saturday. More than 1,000 such orders were issued at the weekend at the six designated border crossings.
Under the new system, health inspectors will be able to perform up to 500 inspections of adherence to quarantine rules a day.
The Health Inspectorate will also step up oversight of how eating and drinking establishments abide by the rules and measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus, including whether the distance between the tables is sufficient and whether antiseptics are available.
The Deputy Director General of the Police Tomaž Pečjak is quoted by RT Slovenia as stressing that it's very important for everyone entering Slovenia from Croatia to have evidence that they had not been travelling elsewhere. For Slovenians this would be a hotel receipt or proof of owning a property in Croatia. For Croatians the evidence is less clear, but Pečjak said that the Slovenian Police may contact their neighbours to find out if the travellers had recently been outside Croatia. All such evidence will be accepted at the discretion of the police officer, with Pečjak adding: "If they suspect that this person is not coming from only Croatia or any other EU country on the yellow list, they can issue a quarantine decision."
More on these lists here
He went on to say that a bill for coffee or lunch would not be sufficient for Slovenians, "as this only proves that this person was in Croatia", but not prove that they had not been in another country. The evidence “must be personalized and must prove that this person was present in the Republic of Croatia at all times and did not go to any of the areas on the red list.”
RTV Slovenia also reports that Austria is tightening controls on it's Slovenian and Hungarian borders. Crossings will still be allowed, but there will be more inspections.
This is a developing story, and there will probably be updates later today, so please check the main page, if needed,
STA, 7 July 2020 - Since Croatia entered the EU in 2013, Slovenian citizens purchased a total of 9,439 properties in the country, which makes them the most numerous foreign owners of real estate in Croatia in that period.
Unofficial estimates meanwhile put the total number at 110,000, mostly houses or apartments on the Croatian coast, as the bulk of them were bought during the times of the former Yugoslavia.
Citing data from the Croatian Tax Administration, Večernji List says that there should be no concern in Croatia that the Slovenian government would prohibit its citizens from entering Croatia.
Slovenia will not be restricting its citizens in going to the neighbouring country during the Covid-19 pandemic because it will protect the interest of property owners, the Croatian newspaper adds in a report on Tuesday.
When it comes to purchases of real estate in Croatia in the last seven years, Slovenians are followed by Germans (4,969), Austrians (2,867), Italians (1,612), Swedes (1,232) and Hungarians (949).
According to the Croatian Tax Administration, only around 4,400 foreign owners are officially leasing their real estate to tourists and pay tax for that.
Večernji List says that the state body has no complete data on real estate owners in one place, and that precise data will be obtained after a census, which is planned in Croatia next year.
STA, 2 July 2020 - Croatia, France and Czechia will be removed on Saturday from the green list of countries considered epidemiologically safe by Slovenia, government coronavirus spokesperson Jelko Kacin said on Thursday. Belgium and the Netherlands will on the other hand be green-listed. Kacin also announced efforts to serve quarantine orders already on the border.
Being put on the yellow list means that most foreign citizens arriving in Slovenia from these countries need to subject themselves to a two-week quarantine, while this does not apply to Slovenians [ed. or those with a residence card] returning from yellow-listed countries.
Kacin said that the SarS-CoV-2 situation was improving in some countries, in particular in western Europe, with the the number of infected persons falling below 10 per 100,000 inhabitants. This is why Belgium and the Netherlands will be put on the green list.
However, there are also countries where things are deteriorating, which is why the government is to decide at today's correspondence session that Croatia, Czechia and France be put on the yellow list, effective Saturday.
Kacin said that Slovenians returning from Croatia will not have to go into isolation, but he stressed they would be asked at the border if they are really returning from Croatia and not from other Western Balkan countries that are on the red list and entail quarantine in Slovenia also for Slovenian citizens.
"There has been too much misleading. Police will get instructions and our travellers should get ready to reveal a little more about where they have been," Kacin said, explaining it will also be necessary to provide evidence.
He again urged against travel to Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina or Kosovo, where the virus is spreading fast. "Everywhere where they had elections and election rallies, the number of infected persons is rising," he added.
As for Croatian citizens planning a holiday in Slovenia, Kacin said that bookings made before Saturday will allow a holiday without quarantine.
Kacin moreover announced the government would examine today the border regime with a focus on putting in place conditions for the effective serving of quarantine orders and strict controls at entry points into Slovenia.
"The government will do all it can so that these quarantine orders are served already on the border to prevent delays and have everybody informed - the National Institute of Public Health, the Health Ministry, the health inspection and, if needed, the police as well," Kacin said, explaining those affected will have to drive directly to their quarantine location.
Referring to administrative rules that have been preventing an effective serving of quarantine orders and thereby enforcement, he said "it will no longer be the case that the quarantine passes before people even receive the order". He added the relevant ministries and other institutions have until Saturday to organise and adapt.
Kacin said more oversight will also be necessary at health institutions and nursing homes and that instructions will be sent out on Friday on how to avoid infections there.
He did not directly comment on Moravče Mayor Milan Balažic issuing today a decree that prohibits any public gatherings as well as private parties or Church mass in this municipality north-east of Ljubljana.
He said the government is trying to prevent the entering of the virus from abroad, expecting the measures to be effective and thus eliminate any need for individual mayors to take action. "But if such gatherings are really happening in their territory, we understand people's concern," Kacin added.
STA, 30 June 2020 - Contrary to previous announcements, Slovenia has decided not to delist Croatia as a Covid-19 safe country based on new assessments and steps taken by the country.
Jelko Kacin, the government spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday that even though the number of infections per 100,000 residents in Croatia has exceeded ten a day over the past fortnight, which merits the removal from the list, Slovenia believes Croatia will succeed in slowing down and eventually stopping the spread of infections in the coming days.
This is based on new assessments and Croatia's decision to close night clubs, venues that Kacin yesterday described as a major cause for concern.
"Based on an agreement between the countries' national [public health] institutes and a talk between both prime ministers, the Croatian government decided to adopt Slovenian action patterns and close night clubs as well as cancel such (massive) events," said Kacin, adding that Slovenia had hence come to a conclusion not to delist Croatia "at the moment".
He pointed out that Slovenia had given Croatia a chance to stem the spread of the infections by imposing the measures and thus lead by example among the Western Balkans countries.
Nuška Čakš Jager, the deputy head of the Centre of Infectious Diseases of the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ), earlier told the press that Croatia recorded 10.77 infections per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.
Kacin pointed out that both countries kept regular contact on a daily basis, highlighting that removing Croatia from the list remained an option. Slovenia will keep closely monitoring the situation in the neighbouring country in cooperation with health experts, said the government spokesman, adding that the coronavirus spread trends were checked twice a day.
Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, who announced his resignation at the press conference, meanwhile said that the government had decided to keep Croatia on the list for now because the removal would "not change a thing for Slovenian citizens".
If Croatia was put on the yellow list, the Slovenian citizens would still be able to return to Slovenia from Croatia without having to quarantine, whereas Croatian citizens wanting to enter Slovenia would face different requirements. Only in case of exceptions they would not be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The situation will be re-assessed at the end of the week, Hojs added.
Statements by Croatian and Slovenian officials however indicate that things are not clear-cut at present.
Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović told the press he had no knowledge of any promises to Slovenia to close night clubs, nor of any decision by Croatian authorities to do so.
He acknowledged, however, that such a possibility was on the table if night clubs became coronavirus hotspots.
And Slovenian Health Minister Tomaž Gantar told Kanal A in the evening that the decision not to delist Croatia was not prudent and was difficult to understand. "I don't know at which level the decision was taken," he said.
Hojs also commented on the EU list of Covid-19 safe third countries, saying that Slovenia would append a special statement to the document in which the country would state that it reserved the right to keep forming its own green, yellow and red lists.
Member states are expected to lift restrictions on the external border as of 1 July in case of certain third countries based on the list, however Hojs pointed out that the list was merely a set of guidelines and that it was up to individual EU countries to decide upon opening borders to third country citizens.
The EU has set down an average of 16 infections per 100,000 residents over a fortnight as a limit for declaring a country Covid-19 safe.
The NIJZ plans to keep the standard of 10 infections per 100,000 residents for Slovenia will not lower its standards, said Kacin, adding that the final decision on categorising countries according to their epidemiologic situations would be up to the government.
Among third countries that are expected to see lifting of border restrictions on the EU external border on 1 July are also Serbia and Montenegro, the two countries that have been put on the Slovenian red and yellow lists, respectively.
STA, 28 June 2020 - Due to a growing number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in Slovenia in the past few days, the government will hold a session on Sunday evening to discuss a bill that would implement emergency measures dealing with the potential second wave of infections.
Unofficial sources say that the measures will be primarily aimed at preventing large gatherings, reported Radio Slovenija.
The government will hence likely amend the ban on public gatherings. Currently, events and assemblies are capped at 500 persons due to coronavirus contagion risk.
Milan Krek, the head of the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ), told Radio Slovenija that tightening the ban would be one of the key measures that "reduce risk of the new emergence of infections turning into an epidemic wave".
The daily record of confirmed infections with the novel coronavirus dropped to almost zero in mid-May, however the number of cases has been increasing since mid-June. On 22 June, more than ten cases were confirmed in a single day for the first time since 29 April, show NIJZ data.
Nine new cases were confirmed on Saturday after conducting 625 coronavirus tests, with three cases detected in the coastal Koper municipality.
STA, 29 June 2020 - The Slovenian government will be forced to de-list Croatia as a Covid-19 safe country on Tuesday if the number of infections there exceeds 10 per 100,000 residents, government spokesman Jelko Kacin announced on Monday. He said that given the coronavirus curve of the last two weeks, this was expected.
Croatia will in that case be placed on the yellow list, meaning that a warning of the danger will be in place for all Slovenians already in Croatia, those planning to go there, and those returning from the country.
They will be urged to keep safety distance while in the country and contact their doctor if they notice any symptoms of Covid-19 when they return to Slovenia.
Kacin noted that Croatia, which has seen a surge in the number of new infections recently, had decided to lift a ban on nightclub partying, a move Slovenia had not opted for even after the epidemic was declared over.
Kacin said a number of Slovenians had bought tickets for a beach party on the island of Pag.
Slovenia is monitoring the situation very closely, he said, adding that there had also been reports of some problems with counting the new cases in Croatia.
"I think there is plenty of reasons for concern and of course to also take action," he told the press.
The two countries' prime ministers, Janez Janša and Andrej Plenković, have already talked about the issue and would further discuss it over the phone later today, Kacin said.
Slovenia expects Croatia to take certain measures to curb the spread of the virus, including close nightclubs and cancel outdoor parties.
As for other countries in the region, Kacin said the number of infections had been rising drastically in Bosnia and Herzegovina, from which 15 cases had been imported to Slovenia.
The outbreak appears to have peaked in North Macedonia, but no infection has come to Slovenia from there, since this was the first country placed on the red list.
In Serbia, many people were infected at a football match, probably more than official figures suggest, commented Kacin, adding that 16 cases had come to Slovenia from there.
Montenegro currently has two major hotspots, one of them being the result of the match in Serbia. The problem with Kosovo, which is also seeing a surge in new cases, is that relatively few tests are conducted there, Kacin noted. Six cases have been imported to Slovenia from there.
In Albania, the number of new infections is also on the rise.
Meanwhile, Kacin highlighted Greece as a stable and safe country.
Out of the total 44 imported cases in June, one each also came from Croatia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Sweden, US, Austria and Germany.
Slovenia places countries on the so-called red list when they have had more than 40 new daily infections per 100,000 inhabitants for the past two weeks. A 14-day quarantine is obligatory for citizens coming from those countries.
Countries seeing more than ten new daily infections per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days are struck from the green list of Covid-19 safe countries and placed onto an intermediate list.
STA, 6 June 2020 - Ten years have passed since the referendum in which Slovenians expressed support for the border arbitration agreement with Croatia. After a fierce campaign, the arbitration received the green light in a narrow vote. But despite great expectations, the countries are still on opposite sides a decade later.
The arbitration agreement was signed by the then prime ministers Borut Pahor and Jadranka Kosor in Stockholm on 4 November 2009 following almost two decades of failed border talks.
The agreement envisaged taking the issue of both land and sea border to the arbitration tribunal. The tribunal was also to decide on Slovenia's junction with high seas and a regime for the use of maritime zones.
The agreement was reached following an intervention from the EU to overcome the impasse created by Slovenia's blockade of Croatia's EU accession. Slovenia argued that Croatia was predetermining the border between the countries in the documents it submitted to the EU during accession talks.
The Slovenian parliament ratified the arbitration agreement in April 2010 but decided to nevertheless put the matter to a referendum on 6 June, arguing "this is such an important issue that the final decision should be made by the people".
A total of 51.54% of voters backed the agreement and 48.46% were against. The turnout was 42.66%.
In the campaign, the opponents of the agreement - the then opposition Democrats (SDS), People's Party (SLS), National Party (SNS) and the Institute 25 June - argued the deal posed a risk to Slovenia's national interests, while the advocates - the Social Democrats (SD)-led coalition - claimed the agreement was the best possible solution, protecting Slovenia's interests and guaranteeing it access to the open sea.
President Pahor labelled that time as a period of "extraordinary concerns, stress, responsibility, focus but also happiness because of successes on this path" in a recent statement for the STA.
He said he had no doubt the referendum would be a success. "I simply did not see any other option, alternative to us succeeding."
In the years that followed, all deadlines from the agreement were honoured, but in 2015 it became clear that Croatia had made a false promise.
In July that year, the Croatian newspaper Večernji List published a recording of phone conversations between Slovenian member of the arbitration tribunal Jernej Sekolec and Slovenian agent in the case Simona Drenik discussing details of the tribunal's confidential deliberations.
The scandal prompted the pair to step down and Croatia withdrew from the arbitration process, calling it compromised, although the tribunal later decided to resume its work.
Later it transpired that Sekolec and Drenik were tapped by the Croatian Intelligence Service (SOA).
The arbitration tribunal declared its final decision on the border on 29 June 2017, awarding Slovenia the bulk of the Bay of Piran, as well as a belt extending 2.5 nautical miles in width, which would be Slovenia's junction with the open seas. The border on land largely followed the demarcation of cadastral municipalities.
Although the decision gave neither side everything it wanted, Slovenian politicians were united that it was biding and must be implemented while Croatia insisted on rejecting it.
Zagreb would like the countries to engage in bilateral talks again but Slovenia has so far rejected this option. Current Foreign Minister Anže Logar said when he started his term that the tribunal's decision was clear and that legal decisions of international tribunals must be respected.
However, during his hearing in parliament before taking office he proposed appointing a special envoy for Croatia, noting it was time for quiet diplomacy.
A decade after the arbitration referendum Pahor remains optimistic. "I know some still think today that Slovenia should have got more when it comes to the border but many thought so for 18 years but were not successful. Now the border has been set, Croatia will acknowledge it sooner or later," the president told the STA.
STA, 5 June 2020 - After Slovenia banned a concert by Marko Perković - Thompson, a Croatian nationalist singer, three years ago, recently a second attempt was made at organising it but the Maribor Administrative Unit again blocked the initiative. However, this time the Interior Ministry annulled the decision in a move that has caused quite a stir.
The ministry told the STA the decision to grant the appeal against what is the second banning of the concert had been made in line with a ruling of the Administrative Court and valid legislation.
The Maribor Administrative Unit was the first to block the controversial concert in 2017 as well, but more than two years after the concert was scheduled to take place the Maribor Administrative Court lifted the ban last June.
Marko Perković participated in the Croatian War of Independence (1991–95), during which he started his career with the patriotic song "Bojna Čavoglave".
Although the Maribor Administrative Unit stands behind the decision it made on 4 May, the procedure to ban the concert initiated by police is now stopped. According to the paper, the singer can now either stage the concert or claim compensation from Slovenia.
The head of the Maribor Administrative Unit, Srečko Đurov, told the STA today he believed the decision to ban the concert was correct but he was obligated to respect the ministry's decision.
"Promoting the Ustaše movement at a public event is a severe violation of human dignity. This is especially so in the case of Maribor, which was subject to horrible terror during the Second World War."
He said the administrative unit had granted the police's request to ban the concert "to protect the fundamentals of our constitutional order, which is the rule of law, human dignity and pluralism".
Thompson's speeches at his concerts are a "direct attack on the fundamental values of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Slovenian Constitution", Đurov said.
The Maribor Administrative Unit did not ban the planned concert because of the views and ideology of the organiser and signer, as the organiser claims, but because promoting the Ustaše movement and inciting hatred is not allowed at a public event in Slovenia, he stressed.
The concert organiser, Milan Trol, who initially wanted to organise the concert on 20 May 2017, told Radio Maribor that the concert would be carried out. "You will be notified of all the details when the time is right," he added.
The ministry's decision triggered a wave of criticism on Twitter, mainly among opposition parties but also from the head of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), Zdravko Počivalšek.
"Thompson's concert, which comes with promoting contempt of other nationalities, is not and must not be welcome in Slovenia. Any kind of incitement of national, racial, religious or any other intolerance is an insult to our values and a violation of our Constitution," he tweeted.
Marjan Šarec of the namesake LMŠ party said the government was "rehabilitating the Ustaše movement" and that the annulment of the concert ban was a "slap in the face to all those who suffered and bled including because of collaboration".
"The decision tramples on human dignity and gives recognition to the Ustaše regime. The fact that Thompson supports the Ustahsa is not a problem. The problem is that our government does," said the interim head of the Social Democrats (SD), Tanja Fajon.
Matej T. Vatovec of the Left said that while many countries were rejecting Thompson and banning his concerts, the Janez Janša government was doing everything for him to have a concert in Slovenia and "thus open the door to promotion of the Ustaše movement and Fascism".
President Borut Pahor's office also responded. "Based on the many questions the president has been receiving regarding a Thompson concert in Slovenia, we highlight that the president's view is the same as in 2017: It is not a matter of politics to allow or ban concerts but a matter of the organiser or relevant institutions to make sure the event is organised in line with the law and that public law and order is protected," the office said on Twitter.
"The president is not familiar with Marko Perković Thompson's music. However, he is familiar with his political views and he rejects them," the office added.
Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič said such a concert had no place in Slovenia. He noted though that media had reported that the Administrative Court had lifted the ban on the first concert. "If that is the reason for the ministry's decision, then I will understand it, although I absolutely do not support this concert," he told reporters.
Thompson - his nickname he took from the gun he had used in Croatia's war of independence - has often been accused of extremist nationalist views due to some of the lyrics of his songs and due to the fact that youth wear Ustaše and Nazi symbols at his concerts.
STA, 22 May 2020 - The Slovenian and Croatian foreign ministers, Anže Logar and Gordan Grlić Radman, met Friday to discuss the opening of the countries' shared border which has been closed, with some exceptions, as the countries are battling the coronavirus pandemic. They could however not yet provide an answer to when the border would reopen for everybody.
This was the ministers' first meeting in person. They met at the Dragonja border crossing police station today after having talked several times over the phone and videoconferencing.
They expressed satisfaction that the epidemiological situation in the two countries is very similar. "This will undoubtedly contribute to an agreement on easier crossing of the border," Grlić Radman told the press in a joint statement.
He also said that talks would contribute to make it easier for Croatians to cross the border into Slovenia, noting that the country was an important neighbour and partner.
He did not, however, say how this would happen. "The public will learn very fast when it is time."
Logar said that Slovenia was "playing with an open hand" in talks about border opening. However, the health of Slovenians must be protected and unnecessary risks avoided, he said.
Zunanji minister ??@AnzeLog z zunanjim ministrom ??@grlicradman o čezmejnem sodelovanju in skupnih ukrepih za odpravljanje posledic epidemije #COVIDー19 ? https://t.co/La9lYX5I1H pic.twitter.com/1fjAg7zNEh— SLOVENIAN MFA (@MZZRS) May 22, 2020
At the moment, Croatia is the only country from where passengers can enter Slovenia without restrictions. Meanwhile, Slovenians can enter Croatia if they have property in the country, a holiday reservation, business or important personal obligations in the country.
The ministers also welcomed the EU's recommendations on the easing of restrictions as regards border permeability.
Logar also commented on the opening of Slovenia's borders with Austria and Italy saying that epidemiological situations in the two countries would have to be taken into account and that Slovenia was doing everything in its power for this to happen as soon as possible.
He also underlined that this would be done in bilateral agreements, adding that Slovenian diplomacy was proactively seeking such agreements.
The ministers also talked about open issues between the two countries. Logar said that they focused above all on issues they themselves could tackle and issues in which the countries have fund a high level of agreement.
Logar also said that Croatia was in a unique position at the moment: presiding the EU Council and getting ready for a parliamentary election simultaneously. "It is a specific time that imposes relatively strong restrictions on talks," Logar said.
Grlić Radman expressed the willingness to discuss all open issues, but also added that these should not come to dominate the countries' relations.
The countries' main open issue is the implementation of the 2017 border arbitration decision which Croatia refuses to accept as binding.
Yesterday it was announced that Slovenians who own property in Croatia, as some 100,000 do, will be able to enter the country without a 14-day quarantine period. But what does that mean for you?
Joe Orovic, of Total Croatia News, dug into the facts and found out the following.
First up, rather than “Slovenians” alone this applies to all EU residents, although “foreigners hoping to enter Croatia must provide proof they either: own real estate or a vessel in Croatia; are attending a funeral; or have been invited to the country by some business entity to conduct economic activity.”
There’s further confusion as to what you can actually do in Croatia, with Božinović saying that people should stay in their accommodation as much as possible.
What’s more, at present those entering Slovenia are supposed to self-isolate for seven days, although there are claims Slovenia is considering dropping this requirement for those who leave the country for no more than 72 hours.
STA, 10 May 2020 - Slovenians with real estate or boats in Croatia are able to enter the country again without having to go into quarantine for two weeks after about two months of restrictions imposed in order limit the spread of coronavirus. Upon return to Slovenia, they are, however, still required to go into quarantine for seven days.
Croatia said on Saturday that EU citizens would be allowed to enter the country for business and urgent personal matters. Some 110,000 Slovenians have property in Croatia, mostly holiday homes and boats.
To cross into Croatia freely, EU citizens must show a property deed at the border, tell the border police where they will be staying and how long, as well as provide a telephone number.
They are no longer obligated to go into 14-day quarantine but they do have to limit their contact with other to a minimum for two weeks and observe social distancing rules.
They will also have to take their temperature every day and report to the nearest epidemiologist if the temperature exceeds 37.2C or if they show Covid-19 symptoms.
However, Slovenia's rules for entry remain unchanged, even though Slovenia's and Croatia's ministers in charge tourism have agreed on reciprocal measures.
The Slovenian police told the STA on Sunday that the rules remained unchanged in Slovenia and that those entering must undergo a 7-day quarantine. It added that the Health Ministry was responsible for changing the rules.
There are exceptions to this rule, under which normal crossing of the border is allowed for daily commuters, farmers in fields on the other side of Slovenia's national borders, cargo traffic and transit traffic.