Ljubljana – The Slovenian Chamber of Commerce (TZS) has called on the authorities to immediately relax the restrictive measures affecting non-essential shops in statistical regions with the most favourable epidemiological situation. It notes that shop owners are running out of contingency reserves and that state aid does not cover all costs.
“Shops have responded exceptionally well and consistently respected and implemented all the prescribed measures for stemming the spread of Covid-19 infections,” says Tuesday’s call, sent to Prime Minister Janez Janša and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek.
It adds that the TZS had consequently concluded that the rate of infections at shops was low and that infections were being brought to the work environment primarily by employees from their homes.
An analysis carried out by the chamber shows that between 16 and 29 December 2020, the share of active infections among the shop staff was below 1.5%, and was comparable to the previous analysed period.
The TZS added that the data from the health authorities and the national tracker site Sledilnik showed the same, which according to the chamber points to the effectiveness of the preventive measures and is a major argument for relaxing the measures in the sector.
It also pointed to the seriousness of the situation for non-essential shops that had been closed for almost five months since March 2020.
“Many retailers, in particular small and medium-sized companies which are banned from doing business with consumers are turning to us to tell us that their reserves have been fullly exhausted and that state aid by no means suffices to cover their costs.”
The chamber insists on the proposal that the subsidised furlough scheme should be extended until the end of April, as the affected companies, being closed, are not able to use other measures, such as subsidised shortened working time.
It also called on the government and trade unions to come to a joint solution to prevent additional lay-offs which would stem from the changed method to determine the amount of minimum wage, which kicked in on 1 January.
“Such a raise in the minimum wage during the greatest economic crisis in the last 70 years is unfeasible for companies in the real sector,” the chamber said.
It added that the consequences of the closure of almost 80% of the entire retail sector could already be felt on the labour market, as the number of newly-registered unemployed persons was up by 34% last year compared to 2019.