Government urged to open up small businesses, services sector

Ljubljana – The Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) has called on the government to open up small businesses and the services sector as the closure has not resulted in an improved epidemiological situation. On the other hand, undeclared work is on the rise and distress among entrepreneurs and craftspersons is deepening.

At Monday’s session of the OZS executive committee, its members said that “we had expected that the government would open flower shops, hair salons and beauty parlours and non-essential shops last Thursday.”

They had also expected that the hospitality sector and other services would be partially opened, OZS president Branko Meh said, adding that entrepreneurs and craftspersons were disappointed because this had not happened.

Although a large part of the economy has been closed for more than a month, the epidemiological situation is not improving, which according to Meh means that the virus is not spreading from these sectors.

The OZS said that the Health Ministry’s data showing the virus was spreading the most at work were based solely on statements by employees. “Of course everybody will say that they have gotten infected at work in order to get a full sick leave compensation,” Meh was quoted by the chamber.

He added that it was not only about economic damage, but also mental health, as distress among people is deepening.

The OZS executive committee thus expects from the government to open these activities, to stem undeclared work, where services are provided without supervision of the protective measures against Covid-19.

It opposes to the proposal by Metoda Dodič Fikfak of the Clinical Institute of Occupational, Traffic and Sports Medicine that Covid-19 is considered an occupational disease. “We will not allow this to happen.”

Flower shop owners pointed to unfair competition, as they are not able to work while food shops and petrol stations are allowed to sell flowers. “This is completely illogical, as there are never so many people in flower shops as in food shops,” said Simon Ogrizek of the OZS.

Restaurant and bar owners are also growing desperate, said Blaž Cvar, the head of the chamber’s hospitality and tourism sector. “The government needs to realise that the measures do not work and that people who decide on them need to be replaced.”

Peter Pišek of the OZS’s transport section was critical of the measures for hauliers. “The sector has been promised aid through the SID Bank, but we have not gotten this money yet,” he said, noting that other EU countries provided aid to hauliers in the form of grants.