Policy responses for Slovenia - HSRM


Policy responses for Slovenia

5. Governance

5.1 Governance

The GOVERNANCE of the health system with regard to COVID-19 relates to pandemic response plans and the steering of the health system to ensure its continued functioning. It includes emergency response mechanisms, as well as how information is being communicated, and the regulation of health service provision to patients affected by the virus.

Update 15 February:

Over the past two weeks, improvements in the epidemiological situation have been significant, allowing for the transition from the black to red phase.

On 9 February 2021, the criteria were reached for the transition into the orange phase. The final decision of the latter will be taken by the end of the week ending with 12 February 2021.

In summary, according to the improvements in the epidemiological situation the government decided that:
1. It would follow incidence only at the national level, without looking at the situation of the individual regions
2. Criteria were reached, through the improvements, to shift the country from the black into the red phase.
3. If the trend continues in this direction and with such a pace, it is very likely that the next transition (from red to orange) will be reached by the end of the current week (8-12 Feb).

An anti-corona law 8 (#PKP8) was passed on 3 February 2021. The total value of all the measures is around 320 million EUR.

Extension of subsidies for waiting on work at home:

From 1 April 2020 until the end of January 2021 the total amount of different subsidies paid out was around 433 million EUR. Around 32,000 business entities used the waiting for work subsidies. The subsidies for the waiting on work at home will be extended through PKP8 from 1 February until 30 April 2021, with the possibility of an additional extension until 30 June 2021. All employers registered at the latest on 31 December 2020  and will, by their own estimates, have a 2021 income drop by more than 20% compared to 2019 or 2020.

Subsidising the raise of the minimum salary:

This is the second key measure of PKP8, which is to subsidise the minimum salary in the first half of 2021, while there will be relief measures for compulsory contributions (pension, health, unemployment insurances) in the second half of the year.

Employers in the period receiving subsidies and for another 3 months afterwards are not allowed to lay off workers, for whom they were receiving subsidies.

Solidarity bonuses:

There will be a one-time bonus amounting to 50 EUR for all pupils; (1) with a permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia, (2) who are in public-accredited educational programmes for the 2020-21 school year, (3) who have not been included on 19 October 2020 into the national pension and invalidity insurance, and (4) who have reached the age of 18 prior to 19 October 2020.

There will be a solidarity cash benefit for disabled persons with very low incomes of 150 EUR, the same will apply to war veterans and socially integrated disabled persons.

Solidarity benefit will apply also to all unemployed who have lost their employment since the epidemic was declared on 12 March 2020.

Update 30 December

As establishment of five phases of the epidemic was introduced:

- Black phase (current since end of November 2020): criteria: more than 1200 hospitalised, a 7-day average of more than 1350 daily newly diagnosed cases; measures: closures of schools at all levels and universities, halt on the public transport; closure of all services and all shops, except supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, banks and post offices. Delivery of food possible through courier services or as personal pick-up. No public gatherings of persons, privately only people of the same household can be together. Curfew between 21.00 and 6.00.

- Red phase: criteria: 1000-1200 hospitalised, a 7-day average of between 1000 and 1350 daily newly diagnosed cases; measures: limited release of public transport, opening of libraries, museums and galleries; hairdressers and cosmetic salons can reopen on condition that there is no more than one client per 20 square metres surface, all present wearing masks.

- Orange phase: criteria: less than 1000 hospitalised, a 7-day average of less than 1000 but more than 500 daily newly diagnosed cases; measures: opening of all services, schoolchildren for the first triad (first three classes of primary school), sports’ activities in the open air, including skiing, gatherings of up 10 persons allowed and no ban any more for the crossing of the municipal borders for those regions where the criteria are met

- Yellow phase: criteria: less than 500 hospitalised, a 7-day average of less than 600 but more than 300 daily newly diagnosed cases; measures: all educational levels return to classical classes, no more ban on crossing municipal and regional borders, no more curfew

- Green phase: criteria: a 7-day average of less than 300 daily newly diagnosed cases; measures: all measures lifted, except continued closure of discos and night clubs

In the first two weeks of December, the measures adopted by the Government adhered to the criteria for a Black phase. With the closeness of the holiday period, however, there was a lot of pressure to loosen some of the strictest measures. Some were (see measures in other sectors for more information), though all loosened measures apply only to the five Western and Central regions, due to an improved epidemiological situation.

From 24 December 2020 until 4 January 2021, Slovenia will return to the previous restrictions except for the permission of a contact between two households on 24-25 December 2020 and 31 December 2020- 1 January 2021. During this time, a maximum of 6 adult persons together is allowed, and children younger than 15 years of age are exempted.

Further, a seventh anti-corona law stimulus package (#PKP7) was introduced on 22 December 2020 with a total value of around 550 million EUR. It will be put to the vote in parliament on 29 December. This is aimed at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, labour market, and social and healthcare systems, with the proposed steps to target socially disadvantaged groups, healthcare, tourism and transport companies and social and healthcare workers.

Overall, the new package introduces solidarity allowance for pensioners, a one-time solidarity allowance for children and students, allowances for families with three and more children, extraordinary assistance of 500 EURO at child birth, a 200 EURO supplement for employees with low salaries, as well as financing for mass testing, increases in hourly rates for workforce in hospitals and nursing homes and VAT exemptions for medical equipment to fight the pandemic, among other things.

Update 27 November:

On 25 November, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Act Determining the Intervention Measures to Mitigate the Consequences of the Second Wave of COVID-19 Epidemic, or the sixth anti-corona law package (#PKP6).

Update 20 October:

Slovenia saw rapid escalation in COVID-19 cases in early October and the Government declared an epidemic again, categorising 9 statistical regions  as red and 3 Western ones as orange.

Due to the lack of distinction between different levels of intervention, the Government decided to correct and make these more precise, identfying criteria. There are 2 levels - orange and red - and these are defined by epidemiological criteria of the number of cases per 100,000 population in a 14-day period.
The following are the criteria for the different phases of measures based on level of pandemic emergency, as adopted by the Government in September 2020:

Level Orange

1.Package of measures 1 (40/60/15):
- limitations of gatherings – 10 (in case of private, spontaneous meetings)/50 (in case of events such as weddings, funerals, family gatherings)/ 500 (in case of formal public events, which need a special permission from the National Institute of Public Health).
- masks obligatory in closed spaces, in public transport and in crowded public areas outdoors.
- limitated opening hours of bars and restaurants of up to 22.00.
- obligatory tests and quarantine for countries with red level.
- recommended remote work.
- certain limitations on visits to nursing homes.

2. Package of measures 2 (80/100/20):
- wider distances between tables in restaurants, guests served only when seated, not at the bar or standing and potentially moving.
- gatherings limited to 10 persons whether public or private (exceptions: religious services, weddings, public cultural and sports events if respecting the distancing, masks and disinfection rules to the full extent).
- events cannot have catering.
- obligatory use of disinfecting sprays at the entrances of apartment complexes and bussiness/office buildings and the entrances to lifts.
 -limits to the number of people present simultaneously in closed public buildings, such as shops, banks, postoffices, offices, etc., based on the surface area.
- ban on visits to the residents in nursing homes and to patients in hospitals in some areas.

3. Package of measures 3 (120/180/30):
- quarantine of individual, high-incidence regions or municipalities.
- general ban on visits to hospitals and nursing homes.
- closure of all restaurants and bars.
- closure of fitness centres and sports facilities for amateur group sports.
- limitations of the activities in cosmetic salons and hairdressers of up to 1 client per space.
- ban on all public and cultural events and religious services as well as weddings in certain municipalities and regions.
- closure of non-emergency medical and dental services.

Level Red

1. Package of measures 1 (140/250/50):
- closure of shopping centres and malls.
- distance classes for secondary schools and universities.
- closure of cultural institutions
- general ban on religious services and weddings.

2. Package of measures 2 (170/300/50):
- distance teaching and classes for all, also for the first five years of primary school.
- special slots in shops, administrative and other offices for the elderly.
- closure of cosmetic and hairdresser salons.
- closure of hotels.
- general ban on all public events.
- closure of sports facilities for amateur individual sports and for sports intended for children and adolescents.
- limited movement of persons between the hours of 22.30 and 5.00.

3. Package of measures 3 (xxx/360/60)
- movement between municipalities not allowed.
- closure of kindergartens.
- halting of public transportation.
- closure of borders except for lorries and for the necessary transit.
- ban on leaving the house except in emergencies and defined exceptions.
- closure of certain economic activity.

In October, given the soaring rise in cases, Slovenia reached level red with 340 cases of infections per 100.000 populations per 14 days. There were 313 hospitalised patients, of which 56 were in intensive care on 20 October. Consequently, criteria for the last,  3rd package,have almost been reached.

Out of the above-mentioned criteria only a ban on movement between regions was adopted, as well as a 'curfew', a ban on movement outside between 21.00 and 6.00 (for more information see transitional measures: physical distancing).

On 20 October, a fifth anti-corona law package (#PKP5) with a total value of measures of 420 million EUR was passed, which includes extension of the subsidised waiting for work, support for the self-employed and others and financial support to some transport companies (for more information see transitional measures: measures in other sectors).

In the week of 16 to 20 April and the weekend after the Government was discussing a second act to alleviate the impact of the economic downturn. There was no agreement yet across the political spectrum on final measures (as of 21 April 2020 at 14.00). It is envisaged that the second act will be exclusively targeting measures for the economy, since the first act was largely dedicated to alleviating social consequences of the crisis. It is expected that this second act would be adopted by the end of April 2020 at an estimated value of 2.3 billion EUR.

The Government announced also the third act, which will be focusing on investments and should be ready by the end of May 2020.

Update 5 June:

June 1 2020 marks the first day after the end of the epidemic, meaning that some economic compensatory measures, which had been introduced transitionally (e.g. subsidies for employers, etc.) have now stopped. During the epidemic, the Government was financing salaries up to 100% if individuals were ordered to stay home or because of interrupted supply chains etc. Now, full financing is not possible anymore, but instead various percentages between 10 and 50% are possible. There may be exceptions, e.g. for the tourism sector, which is suffering more than others.

The third so-called 'anti-corona' law has been adopted, which includes: the introduction of compensatory economic measures, which are mainly related to subsidies due to shorter working hours, where the state would compensate for the missing hours of work to get to full-time; support to direct investments from abroad, support to social services and health care providers for the loss of income because of the inability to provide services in the period of the epidemic; every citizen will receive a tourist voucher (adults over 18 years 200 EUR worth and minors 50 EUR worth), which can be used for (partial) payment of lodging at hotels, B&Bs, spas, mountain huts and other tourist facilities.

Update 26 June:

The Government is preparing a new set of economic measures:

    There will be compensation to the employers in the cases of 'waiting for work' at home for another month.

    Kindergartens will receive state compensation for their lost income during the period of lockdown.

    For the next two years, additional staffing for carers in nursing homes will be financed from the budget for all those homes, which are included in the publicly co-financed schemes under the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. This measure will require additional 34 million EUR.

There was a pandemic response plan in place before the outbreak or COVID-19 with the latest version adopted in 2016. There was a great deal of criticism because it was specific to pandemic influenza. The National Pandemic Plan outlines advice including:
• Executive power of the Government and the Ministry of Health, important role given to Civil Defence services
• Guidance for local planners
• A health and social care response, including
o Detection and assessment and the relative roles of primary, secondary and social care and the provision of stockpiled PPE
o Treatment and escalation, including the roles of public health, primary and secondary care, ambulance services and others and the potential for legislative change
o The recovery phase
• Workplace/business guidance
• Ethical framework
• Pandemic flu: communication and public engagement
On 2 April 2020 the Parliament adopted the popularly called ‘Mega Corona Act’ (officially: Intervention Measures to mitigate the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infectious disease epidemic on citizens and the economy Act), which reflects the Governments intervention with a package of measures valued at 3 billion EUR. The measured adopted included the following:
1. The validity of the measures below is for the duration of the epidemic, initially for the period 13 March until 31 May 2020. If it is not recalled, the period of the measures would be automatically extended by 30 days;
2. All personal loans repayments through monthly instalments can be frozen upon request by the client with the respective bank. Nevertheless, individual claims need to be filed and the client needs to define the estimated period of the freeze on instalments.
3. Waiver on social security contributions (health insurance, invalidity insurance, unemployment insurance, etc.) for private entities; these contributions would be paid by the State budget for the duration of the epidemic
4. Postponement of personal income tax payments
5. The responsibility for the management of the epidemic was moved from the Ministry of Health to the Government
6. Empowerment of the Health Inspectorate for the following:
a. Prohibit movement of persons with a certain (suspected) communicable disease;
b. Prohibit gatherings of people in public places, until the threat of spread of the infectious disease is over;
c. Limit or forbid sales of certain items and products;
d. Direct other measures and carry out acts, which they are authorised for by law or other legal act.
7. Employers, whose employees cannot continue their economic activity because of the measures enforced, are entitled for the 80% of the monthly employee salaries reduced by social security contributions to be reimbursed from the budget for the duration of the epidemic.
8. For the self-employed and for religious workers belonging to registered church communities the obligation for social security contributions for the duration of the epidemic is waived
9. For the self-employed a Universal Basic Income is established at 700 EUR per month plus the payment of the social security contributions from the State budget
10. Sickness benefits remain payable by the HIIS
11. Pensioners with the pensions lower than 700 EUR would get a one-time bonus based on the level of their pension
12. Civil servants/public employees can be transferred to different tasks within the same or another employer during the course of the epidemic
13. Overtime can be ordered for up to 20 hours per week
14. Temporary employment for the duration until 30 September 2020 can be commissioned without an open public tender
15. Persons in state functions would have their salaries reduced by 30% for the duration of the epidemic

The national response to COVID-19 is led by the Government and the Ministry of Health, informed by an expert team and NIJZ. The response has always been coordinated at the national level as this had already been envisaged by the pandemic preparedness plan mentioned above.

Financial assistance to certain employment groups:
A total of 37,516 self-employed, farmers and religious workers received twice a special financial assistance as universal basic income – 350 EUR for March and 700 EUR for April.