Policy responses for Slovenia - HSRM

Slovenia


Policy responses for Slovenia

6. Measures in other sectors

6.1 Measures in other sectors

Many MEASURES IN OTHER SECTORS beyond the immediate scope of the health system are being taken to prevent further spread of the virus. This section contains information on many of these areas, including border and travel restrictions and economic and fiscal measures, among others.

Update 15 February:

Other meausres:

(1) In the farming and agricultural sector, partial subsidies of shorter working temrs will be provided also to physical persons, who are in agricultural activity and who employ workers through contracts.

(2) Financial compensation for the loss of income for farmers retroactively from 1 October 2020.

(3) Temporary measure of full reimbursement of social security contrbutions for religious workers.

Update 15 February:

For elderly care, the measures taken so far were budgetary and financial:

A total of 56 milllion EUR were allocated to elderly care, namely for:
(1) bonuses for work under risky conditions and bonuses for danger and increased workload
(2) supporting the service providers of home care
(3) refund of nursing care fees because users were moved to home care
(4) coverage of shortfalls in income due to lower occupancy
(5) costs to cover newly employed who had to be commissioned by the institutional care providers
(6) bonuses for the employed
(7) financing of additional staff in the institutional nursing care in the period of 2 years
(8) bonuses for the employed working in the red and grey areas
(9) one month strategic stockpiles of PPE
(10) PPE for the employed in the red and grey areas

Update 15 February:

From 9 February 2021 onwards, children aged 6 to 9 will return to school as well as children in kindergartens. 

As part of the eighth anti-corona package (#PKP8), there will be a one-time solidarity bonus of 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.


Update 15 February:

The Government decided on 4 February 2021 that it would allow for the opening of all shops, provided that all shop assistants are regularly tested in advance of the start of the working week. Testing of customers/clients is necessary only for the participation in the real estate visits with an agent and for pet owners in pet grooming salons.

In the period of 10 months and based on the anti-corona legislation additional 541 persons were employed. Additionally, there are also 116 persons employed through public works.

Update 30 December

There was a restart on the public transportation according to the summer timetables for the five Western and Central regions due to the improved situations to the five Western and Central regions.

In addition, as part of the anti-corona law 7 (#PKP7), aid in the form of coverage of running costs to all types of transport companies (school, railways, bus, occasional transports) has been proposed.

Update 30 December

Under the seventh anti-corona package (#PKP7), the following steps have been introduced:

Pensioners: Pensioners with the pensions up to 714 EUR will receive a bonus, as they had already during the first wave. They will receive it on 30 December 2020 at the following amounts:

- For those receiving a pension of up to 510 EUR: 300 EUR
- For those receiving a pension between 510,01 and 612 EUR: 230 EUR and
- For those receiving a pension between 612,01 and 714 EUR: 130 EUR.

Families with children:

- For every newborn child, the family will receive 500 EUR.
- For those receiving a family bonus for children, and who are in the fifth tax bracket, they will receive 50 EUR per child.
- Families with 3 children will receive 100 EUR, those with 4 or more will receive 200 EUR.

Older farmers with low incomes: Farmers with low incomes, older than 65 years, will receive a bonus of 150 EUR.

Employees of the religious communities: Individuals working for religious communities will receive a universal basic income of the level of 700 EUR; the State will also pay for their social contributions (primarily, health and disability as well as pension insurance.

Aid to voluntary fire brigades: Additional funding will be granted to voluntary fire brigades who cannot raise additional voluntary donations.

Update 30 December:

As part anti-corona law 7 (#PKP7), students will receive a bonus of 150 EUR by the IRS.

Update 20 October:

- there is an extension of and introduction of new measures, which aim to maintain the price level of resident fees in nursing homes. Currently, these fees do not allow for the coverage of expenses related to the measures to protect from the infection with COVID-19.

- the state budget will finance one month's worth of protection mandatory stockpiling of PPE, co-finance PPE for the employees and providers as well as cover the fallouts of income due to unoccupied capacity and movement to home care.

Update 29 November:

All levels of education are now carried out remotely only; kindergarten care is provided upon request, if both parents are employed.

As part of the sixth anti-corona law package (#PKP6):
- there is no obligation for parents to pay the kindergarten fees if the child cannot use it (from 26 October onwards).
- in view of the previous point, all kindergartens are entitled for compensation for the shortages incurred due to parents' inability to send children and consequently not paying.

In addition:
- warm meals will be provided for some school children and pupils from socially-challenged families during distant learning. There is an income margin set as this is reserved only for those children from families, which are entitled to social benefit schemes. Funding of these is secured from the state budget.
- students staying at the student residencies during the epidemic are not obliged to pay rent. Reimbursement will be made from the state budget.

Update 20 October:

- in the case of quarantine of a child, parents will be relieved of the costs of kindergarten fees.

- regulation of remote teaching and studying have been introduced.

- ensured financing of protection equipment and means for disinfection of premises.

- teaching has been moved online for all students in univeristy and secondary school and for students in the last four years of primary school.

Update 20 October:

As part of the fifth anti-corona law package, the following measures have been taken in economic activity:

- extension of the subsidised waiting for work: extended for all branches of work, which in all has experienced a 20% drop of income as compared with 2019.

- support for the self-employed and others.

- self-employed, executives and farmers will receive a universal monthly income (of 1.100 EURO monthly for October, November, December). And they will also receive reimbursement of partial compensation for the period of quarantine (when applicable).

- these measures will be in force from 1 October until 31 December 2020. This measure can be extended for a period of up to 6 months

- the condition for the universal monthly income will be a drop in the incomes of the beneficiary in 2020 due to the consequences of the pandemic, which is of the level of at least 20 percent compared to the year 2019.

- if a person is obliged to quarantine, then they are elligible for a compensation of the level of 250 EUR for the loss of income

- Many of the above measure can be further extended by up to 6 months.

Also, the following measures were introduced:

- closure of restaurants, bars and coffeeshops, and hotels, though restaurants may offer takeaway (as of 24 October 2020).

- full closure of hairdressers, barbers, cosmetic salons and fitness gyms, except if they can assure a maximum of one person per space at a time (as of 24 October 2020).

Update 29 November:

The following measures have been put in place:

- closure of all non-food stores, termination of earlier exceptions, except for: post offices, banks, pharmacies, petrol stations and car garages for tyres and emergency assistance.

The following are included in the sixth anti-corona law package (#PKP6):

- subsidising shorter working hours until 30 June 2021: This is an extension to the existing measures, which had been taken originally in spring of 2020.

- compensation of the salary for the period of waiting at home: This compensation is extended until 31 January 2021. In addition to that, the percentage of entitlement has been increased from 80 to 100% for all those companies, which have not yet and will not exceed 800,000 EUR of state assistance. This will be in force from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021.

- delayed payment of instalments for bank loans for 12 months: This applies for the existing and for the forthcoming loans, which are needed to alleviate financial problems related to the epidemic.

- financial compensation for farmers for the reduced income if it is declared at a level of at least 30 percent.

Furthermore, partial coverage of running costs for the worst hit companies has been agreed:

- all companies registered prior to 1 September 2020 are entitled to this benefit from 1 October 2020 onwards, provided they have at least one employed as well as self-employed and company associates.

- the main condition is a drop of income of at least 30 percent. The level of compensation of running costs will vary based on the size of the drop.

- assistance under this provision can be a maximum of 1000 EUR per employee per quarter, up to 3 million EUR total or 800,000 EUR for companies established after 1 October 2019.

 - and employers who urgently need staff for the carrying out of work can do so without the standard procedures and tended posts.

- subsequent employments are temporary but not longer than 31 August 2021.

Travel and transport

Update 20 October:

As part of the fifth anti-corona law package, providers of occasional and city public transport will get a compensation for costs as they had been unable to provide their services between 16 March 2020 and 11 May 2020.

Update 29 November:

All public transport has been stopped; transport is allowed if organised by the employer for up to 6 persons in the same vehicle.

Borders

Update 20 October:

- a ban on traveling has been introduced (1) going out of own statistical region (with limited exception, including: in case of immediate danger for health, lives and property; arriving and leaving from work and carrying out of emergency work duties; access to and provision of services for emergency cases) and (2) abroad (with limited exception, including: for work migration, medical treatment, to attend a funeral of a close relative, or to go to own property in another country).

Update 29 November:

The following measures are now in place:

- borders are not closed but travellers need to state a valid reason for travel – tourism is not considered a valid reason.

- foreigners are allowed to enter following the adopted rules on quarantine, with very few exceptions globally.

- crossing the borders is not possible anymore for visits to own real estate property in a neighbouring country for up to 48 hours.

Borders

The Slovenian government worked with the Italian authorities to provide the necessary crossing of the border between Slovenia and Italy for daily migrants who travel across the border for work. Those who hold property – whether housing or agricultural – were allowed to cross as well as the members of their families accompanying them. Such travels are permitted only on a daily basis with return back home every day.
On May 10, 2020, the border between Slovenia and Croatia was also opened. Travelling is allowed for business, for academic purposes and for those who own real estate such as holiday apartments and houses in Croatia. For the time being, persons living in Slovenia who would spend more than 72 hours in Croatia would have to follow an obligatory quarantine upon return to Slovenia. This measure is under revision, pending a potential agreement between the two national public health institutes on the modalities of follow-up for such travellers.

Update 5 June:
There have been intense consultations with all neighbouring countries; the first border to be reopened was the one with Croatia, followed by Austria, and then most probably also with Italy. For these first three countries there is no longer a requirement to quarantine upon entry to Slovenia and no test is required to pass the border. The final decision on individual traffic across the border with Italy will be taken after the visit of Foreign Minister di Maio in Slovenia on the weekend of the 6th June.

Update 26 June:

Similarly to many other countries, Slovenia has seen an increase in the number of new cases in the week of June 22, as 37 new cases were notified (while there were 39 new cases in total for the month of May). These were almost all imported, mostly from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, some also from Sweden and US or were close contacts of these. In other words, all the new cases had a clearly identified source. 

Consequently, the Government undertook several measures:

Travellers arriving from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, but also as previously listed from Kosovo and North Macedonia are now obliged to enter quarantine, regardless of their citizenship.

The validity of the certificate of a negative COVID-19 has been shortened from 3 days to 36 hours.

In July, the Slovenian government simplified the issuance of quarantine decrees, which are handed over to any person entering Slovenia from a high-risk country. The criteria for classifying countries as risk areas changed. In this context, the ranking of Croatia was discussed controversially given that the neighbouring country is the main holiday destination for Slovenians during summer. Nevertheless, in the last week of August due to a rise of positive cases in Croatia, the government declared it as a high-risk country and gave tourists on holidays in Croatia three days to return before a 14-day self-quarantine applied. From September 13, self- quarantine was shortened from 14 to 10 days as in other European countries.

Travel

On 11 May 2020 public transportation – urban and interurban bus transportation and trains – was reopened. Seats where passengers can sit are marked.
On 12 May 2020 airline traffic will be allowed again.
From 20 April 2020 some types of bus transport are permitted if they are organised for the specific transfer of employees in a town or local community. The standard requirements of distancing need to apply and not more than a third of passengers can travel based on the registered capacity of the vehicle. On the same date, car garages, services and shops with cars, bikes, technical and building materials were reopened. Also, technical proficiency tests were reopened for all types of motor vehicles.
Update 5 June:
All public transportation is functioning again, including airline traffic. The first regular flight from Belgrade landed on 29 May 2020, and other airlines announced a gradual resuming of flights between 15 June and end of August.

Update June 19: 
In response to the pandemic the Slovenian government has issued tourist vouchers in the form of a credit on the information system of the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia. The vouchers are valid for vacations within Slovenia and can be used every person who permanently resided in Slovenia on 13 March 2020. The vouchers have a value of EUR 200 for adults (and every child of the value of 50 EUR) and are valid for qualifying accommodation in Slovenia. In general, there has been excellent experience with the tourist vouchers: the share of Slovenian holidaymakers spending their summer holidays in Slovenia was significantly higher this year more than over 60% of Slovenians spending their holidays in Slovenia in the first half of this summer.

Update 26 June: 
Portugal and Albania were added to the red list, which means that travellers are advised not to travel there unless it is an urgent need. Luxembourg and Montenegro were placed on the intermediate (yellow) list.

Economic activity

-The Ministry of Agriculture advertised seasonal jobs in agriculture in Slovenia and received around 450 applications. Nevertheless, this will not be enough to cover for all the needs in this period, so there will be some seasonal workers arriving from Romania.
-From 4 May 2020 hairdressers, barbershops and cosmetic salons will reopen based on the required distancing and respecting the regulations for their activity as prepared by the NIJZ.
Update 5 June:
Restaurants and bars are also open indoors, provided that guests enter wearing a mask, which they can later remove, while staff need to wear masks at all times.
Cinemas, hotels as well as other similar facilities and gyms are allowed to be open, provided that distancing is ensured and individuals wear masks as required.

Update 13 July:
The state extends co-financing (of up to 80% of gross salary) for those temporarily waiting for work at home until 31 July with retroactivity for June and with the possibility of extension to the end of September; a total of 65,000 employees benefited from this measure
The financing of quarantine is also transferred to the national budget (previously the obligation was on the side of the employer for up to 50%), when work from home is not possible:
• In the case of contact with an infected person: 80% remuneration
• In the case of contact with an infected person when working: 100% remuneration
• In the case of returning from a country on the green or yellow list: 80% remuneration
• In the case of intentional travel to a country from the red list – NO remuneration (unless the travel was for a death in the family or birth of a child, in such cases the remuneration is 50%)
Student food tickets can be used in the summer and students can use their public transport passes in the summer free of charge
Tourist vouchers for citizens can be used also in temporary (seasonal) settings
On 28 June, the government adopted an emergency bill to extend the ”waiting for work” scheme until the end of September.. By the end of July, there were 89,400 unemployed people registered in Slovenia, which was virtually the same as at the end of June but was a 24% increase than at the end of July 2019.


Education:
Primary and secondary schools will have partial reopening on 18 May 2020: for primary schools this will apply only for the first triad (the first three years), while in secondary education it will apply only for last year pupils preparing for their final year exams.
Kindergartens will reopen with strict limitations on the number of children per group and availability.
Update 5 June: Starting on June 8, all primary and secondary school children will go back to school, even if the school year ends on 24 June

Other:
The judicial system is operative again (update of 5 June), as are all the administrative services of the state and thus also the legal deadlines in the administrative procedures and processes.
Car licenses that expired between 13 March and 19 April 2020 were automatically extended until 19 June 2020. For licenses expiring from 20 April 2020 onwards the standard procedures apply.
Slovenia will participate in the Pan-European hackathon #EUvsvirus, and the participation is coordinated by the Ministry of Public Administration, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Technological Park of Ljubljana.

Update 13 July
Due to the spread of the virus in two nursing homes, all nursing homes will stop receiving visitors until further notice.

Borders
Slovenia is bordered by Italy and given the rise in the epidemic there from late February onwards, the Government decided to limit border-crossings with Italy for non-essential passenger travel and reduced the number of crossing points to only 6. In these crossings, there are controls over traffic and travellers need to provide a negative test to COVID-19 no more than 3 days old. This measure was introduced on 12 March 2020 for all transit travel crossing Slovenia. Austria, Croatia and Hungary also limited personal travel on their sides for non-essential travel, first only for incoming passenger traffic and later also for transit. This caused some problems for certain groups of citizens of third countries in transit back to their countries, but it was successfully resolved with the mutual cooperation with transit countries (e.g. Croatia and Serbia) and target countries (e.g. Romania). For more information, please see “Transition measures: measures in other sectors”

Travel
On 16 March all public transport in Slovenia was stopped and at the International Airport of Ljubljana flights were mostly cancelled until further notice. This caused some problems for Slovenian citizen who were still abroad at that time. An extensive effort was put in place by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to organise repatriation of those citizens who desired to do so. Several flights were organised and paid for by the Government in an effort to repatriate several hundred citizens who were trying to get back home before a more extensive ban on international flight travel. For more information, please see “Transition measures: measures in other sectors”


Economic activity
Currently, activity in the country is limited. Although there is no full lockdown and no extreme movement restrictions are in place, such as in Italy or Spain, economic activity is constrained (apart from distribution services, supermarkets and other food providers, home delivery, pharmacies, petrol stations and bakeries), although it has been estimated that around one third of economic activity still takes place. This is best reflected by the Ministry of Public Administration’s data, where they see that there are more employers who now report their employees working from home than there were persons reporting working from home last year. For more information, please see “Transition measures: measures in other sectors”

Education
Primary schools’ final tests, which have a screening value, will not be carried out this year. On the other hand, the Ministry of Education still intends to carry out the baccalaureate finals, which are considered essential due to their importance for applications to universities. There are still controversies on how these finals can be carried out respecting distancing and other protection measures. For more information, please see “Transition measures: measures in other sectors”