Businesses warn against potential new restrictions

Ljubljana – Slovenia’s largest business association has urged the government not to jeopardise jobs with potential further coronavirus restrictions, offering data showing that fewer than 1% staff at companies are infected.

Based on information received on the ground, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) finds in its appeal on Tuesday the business shutdown measure is unwarranted.

“We appeal for taking sensible decisions that will not jeopardise many jobs and companies, thus putting at risk tax receipts for the public funds and the budget,” the call reads.

A survey among companies has shown that an average 3% of absences are due to the epidemic; 0.8% of the employees are absent because they are sick, and 2% due to child care or because they are self-isolating after a contact with an infected person or on return from abroad.

“The data confirm that businesses are one of the points in the whole system of the country which has the best control of the spread of the virus,” said the chamber.

The GZS said it shared the concern about the great number of Covid-19 patients at hospitals and in intensive care units, saying the prime concern of businesses in their decisions was their employees’ health and a safe working environment.

The chamber warned that Slovenia could not afford a shutdown of the likes of the one during the spring wave of coronavirus.

“It is our responsibility to stick to government measures set out up by the science, thus protecting everyone’s health. However, it is also imperative the economy remain as open as possible,” they said.

The call comes after Health Minister Tomaž Gantar proposed for the government to tighten up coronavirus restrictions further for two weeks.

The proposal for Thursday’s cabinet session, which Gantar says is a softer version of measures proposed by the group of Covid-19 advisers, would include restrictions on non-essential activities, including public transport.

He suggested that establishments such as furniture stores or car showrooms, which were allowed to reopen last Friday, should be closed again, while the main point was not to ease any restrictions yet.

This was as the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations keeps increasing with 1,171 people in hospital with the disease yesterday, including 196 in intensive care.

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek responded by saying that the crisis was one of health but also an economic one, so it was key to seek a compromise between the two in taking measures.