The Government has repealed the declaration of the COVID-19 epidemic – measures remain in place due to risk of spread of the disease

Foto: Matic Štojs Lomovšek

At Thursday’s Correspondence session, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted an ordinance declaring the end of the COVID-19 epidemic, which was declared on March 12th, 2020. The National Institute for Public Health (Nacionalni inštitut za javno zdravje – NIJZ) estimated that all indicators point to a slowdown in the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 among the population. However, as there is still a risk of spread of COVID-19, general and special measures, adopted on the basis of the decision on the application of measures, provided for by the Communicable Diseases Act, for the COVID-19 epidemic.

The current epidemiological situation makes it possible to ease the measures that were necessary in order to contain and control COVID-19, but they cannot yet be totally lifted. The first confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 infection was recorded in Slovenia on March 4th, 2020, and up to and including May 14th, 2020, 1465 confirmed cases of infection and 103 cases of death were recorded.

In its assessment, the National Institute of Public Health has pointed out that the measures to limit the spread of infection include testing, isolating patients, finding contacts, quarantining high-risk close contacts, hand and cough hygiene, and respecting physical distance. The cooperation and responsible behavior of the population in taking action and taking care of their own health and the health of the community have made it possible to limit the spread of the disease. In addition, targeted health education and counseling are still needed in the future, as a measure to prevent and control infectious diseases.

The Government has made some changes to the measures at the border crossings at the external border and at checkpoints at the internal borders of the Republic of Slovenia At Thursday’s correspondence session, the Government adopted a Decree on ordering and implementing measures related to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 at border crossings at the external border and at checkpoints at the internal borders of the Republic of Slovenia. This ordinance determines measures for the containment and control of the COVID-19 epidemic at the external border and at checkpoints of the internal borders of the Republic of Slovenia, upon entry into the Republic of Slovenia, and the border can only be crossed at these checkpoints during their time of operating. It will be possible to cross the border at several checkpoints on the roads, connecting Slovenia with the Republic of Austria, the Italian Republic, and Hungary.

Checkpoints for air connections for international air traffic are the Jože Pučnik Airport Ljubljana, Edvard Rusjan Airport Maribor and Portorož Airport. Checkpoints on maritime connections for international maritime transport are the Border Crossing for International Maritime Transport Koper and Piran. Airport and port operators for international traffic shall ensure the conditions for the establishment of a checkpoint and the implementation of hygiene measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in accordance with the requirements of the National Institute of Public Health.

The time of opening for every individual checkpoint is determined by the Police in agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in agreement with the security authorities of neighboring countries, and in agreement with the airport or port manager. The police will publish information on the time of the opening of checkpoints on their websites and in the media.

The border police will provide the instructions, prepared by the National Institute of Public Health on the implementation of measures for the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus, because of a possible COVID-19 infection, to every person entering the Republic of Slovenia, who has a permanent or temporary residence in the European Union and has not left the European Union for more than 14 days.

If a person with permanent residence in Slovenia indicates being infected with the new coronavirus or show visible symptoms when crossing the border of the Republic of Slovenia, this person will be instructed by the border police officer to immediately contact the selected personal physician or emergency medical service by telephone.

A foreign citizen who does not have a permanent residence in the Republic of Slovenia and who, when crossing the border, says that he or she has tested positive for COVID-19 or shows obvious signs of infection with the virus, is not allowed to enter the Republic of Slovenia.

The decree has also introduced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all third-country nationals without a permanent or temporary residence in the European Union who are entering the Republic of Slovenia.

The government ordinance provides for some exceptions. Quarantine will not be mandatory for:

· persons attending the funeral of a close relative in Slovenia and leaving the country on the same day and submitting a proof of the date and time of the funeral;

· persons carrying out the transport of goods to or from Slovenia to a third country, and the transport of goods from third countries in transit;

· persons with diplomatic passports;

· persons who provide emergency services for which they have been issued a certificate by the competent ministry and if ordering a quarantine could result in major social or economic damage due to non-provision of these services;

· members of the protection and rescue services, healthcare services, police and firefighting service, and persons carrying out humanitarian transport for Slovenia who are crossing the border in order to perform their duties.

The professional justification of the measures of the ordinance shall be determined by the Government every seven days, and, taking into account expert reasons, it shall decide whether these measures shall continue to be applied or whether they shall be amended or abolished.

The Ordinance enters into force on the day, following its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, and thus terminates the Ordinance on ordering and implementing the measures related to preventing the spread of COVID-19, at border crossings at the external border and checkpoints at internal borders of the Republic of Slovenia.

Rok Krajnc