Gatherings of up to 100 people allowed from Monday

Ljubljana – Gatherings of up to 100 people indoor or outdoor will be permitted under a government decree adopted on Friday in response to a Constitutional Court decision staying the blanket ban on public assembly.

Indoor up to 100 people will be able to gather, assuming there is at least 30 square metres of space per person or per members of one household. Masks will be mandatory.

Outdoors, one person per 10 square metres will be allowed to gather and a distance of 1.5 metres between persons must be observed, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs announced on Friday.

The decree is expected to be published in the Official Gazette tonight and will enter into force on Monday.

Hojs however stressed that any gatherings must be registered with the authorities under the law, but special permission from the National Institute of Public Health (NIHZ) would not be necessary.

The minister also said the Constitutional Court would now be held responsible, having apparently decided that the right to public assembly takes precedence over public health.

As for the previous public assembly rules, Hojs said the government’s desire had been to reduce the number of contacts, infections and deaths, and reduce pressure on hospitals, leaning on expert studies that showed such a measure was effective at preventing transmission.

In staying the government decree yesterday, the court held the new regulation had to take into account not only the human rights aspect but also the fact that gatherings are an important means of expressing political positions.

According to the court, the government should weigh between potentially harmful consequences of gatherings and their constitutional importance, whereby it has a variety of tools at its disposal to strike a balance.

Hojs said the government had considered rulings by the French and German constitutional courts in setting the 100-person ceiling, though he was quick to point out that those rulings were made at a time when the prevalence of coronavirus in the respective countries was mush lower than it currently is in Slovenia.

Next week, the government will also examine how to regulate other types of assembly, such as weddings. As Hojs said, there is no reason why there should be differences between different types of events.