Epidemic effectively over on 31 May, restrictions remain in place
The measures will be eased when it is certain that the virus transmission is not to be expected anymore, depending on the epidemiological developments, the ministry's Public Health Directorate Vesna Kerstin Petrič said on Friday.
The government decree, adopted last night, raised a lot of questions regarding the validity of the restrictions. Kerstin Petrič explained at today's government briefing on coronavirus that all of them were still in effect until further notice.
She urged Slovenians to continue doing all they could to help keep the epidemic at bay by maintaining social distancing as well as using face masks and heeding respiratory hygiene guidelines.
Mateja Logar of the UKC Ljubljana infectious disease clinic agreed with Kerstin Petrič, saying that the end of the epidemic did not mean the end of all restrictions. It means that the state's boost for the economy will be reduced, certain legal decisions will be amended, but all the preventive measures stay put, she said.
According to her, the epidemic is still ongoing, however it is true that the epidemiological status shows favourable trends in the past ten days. "Time will tell whether or not it was the right moment to lift the measures quickly and en masse," she said.
Government spokesman Jelko Kacin told the STA that the only effective result of the government's decree declaring the epidemic over was stepping up easing of the border restrictions - quarantine is hence no longer necessary for EU residents entering Slovenia, unless they were outside the EU for more than two weeks.
Kacin added that the decision was based on the recent favourable epidemiological trends. Had the government not declared the end of the epidemic on Thursday, then the first and second anti-corona bills would have been valid in June as well, he explained.
Kerstin Petrič concurred that accelerating the easing of the border restrictions was enabled by the promising epidemiological situation in Slovenia and other EU countries.
She also said that the situation would be monitored regularly and in case of any adverse developments, the border policy would be amended.
"If a new outbreak emerges in Slovenia's vicinity or a major hotspot in the country, the government could step up the restrictions," said Kacin, adding that the measures could not be discriminatory towards any EU country.
He added that the coming weekend would be a decisive time for the future assessments of the epidemiological status and people's movement.
Logar meanwhile said it was hard to predict whether a second Covid-19 wave would occur, but warned that, historically speaking, most epidemics had a second phase.
The government's decree does not affect efforts to reopen schools, pointed out Education Minister Simona Kustec at the briefing. Kindergartens will see the return of roughly a half of all the children on Monday, said Kustec, while a third of the primary school students, the first to third grades, will go back to school.
Children from Slovenia's neighbouring countries who are studying in Slovenia will carry on with remote learning though.
All the preventive measures in educational institutions remain in place, she added. Some 80%-85% of teachers and other educational workers are expected to return to work.