Updated at 13:20, 18 May
STA, 18 May 2020 - Three days after opening Slovenia's borders to EU residents almost without exception, the Slovenian government opted for a more gradual approach by determining that only citizens of EU and Schengen Zone countries with which bilateral technical agreements are reached will be allowed to cross without restrictions.
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Under a government decree that was adopted roughly an hour before it took effect at 10pm on Sunday, all Slovenian nationals and foreigners with residence in Slovenia are allowed to cross into Slovenia freely.
Whether EU and Schengen Zone nationals may cross without being subject to a mandatory quarantine will be contingent on the epidemiological situation in neighbouring countries "and the conclusion of bilateral technical agreements with neighbouring and other EU or Schengen Zone countries or a general agreement at EU level if it is adopted earlier," according to the decree.
The government will determine the list of eligible countries by decree and the list will be published on the websites of the National Institute of Public Health and the Foreign Ministry. The list will be updated on an ongoing basis.
As of Monday midday such a list was not yet available, which was also confirmed by Melita Močnik, the head of the border police at the General Police Directorate, at the government's daily coronavirus briefing.
The Health Ministry is now examining the epidemiological situation in neighbouring countries based on documents prepared by the National Institute of Public Health, while Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek was expected to discuss the matter today with his Austrian and Hungarian counterparts.
"We expect that Austria will open borders relatively soon and we're sure Slovenia will not be the last," said the government's coronavirus spokesman Jelko Kacin told the press.
He said Slovenia wanted reciprocity and did not want to be discriminated against by any neighbouring country which may allow the arrival of tourists from major countries but "not from a southern border". "We are treating all of our neighbours on the same basis - their epidemiological status."
The latest decision marks a walk-back from the original plan, a move that had already been indicated by Prime Minister Janez Janša in a Twitter post on Saturday, when he said there was no general opening of the border with Italy or Austria and Hungary. He said this could only be a measure taken by both sides.
The original decree, which took effect on Friday, abolished mandatory quarantine for EU nationals and residents provided they had not been outside the Union for more than 14 days. For others, a 14-day mandatory quarantine was instituted, with exceptions for persons such as diplomats, hauliers and emergency staff.
But while making crossing contingent on bilateral deals, the amended decree also marks a for now theoretical expansion of the quarantine waiver to all Schengen Zone countries, which includes some non-EU countries, provided technical agreements are reached with them.
Moreover, it makes it easier for third-country nationals in transit as it stipulates that "persons who travel through the Republic of Slovenia into another country in the same day" do not need to go into 14-day quarantine.
The decree also fixes an issue with the previous decree which appears to have excluded lorry drivers from the Balkans who work for Slovenian hauliers. This is also the reason why it entered into effect almost immediately.