Poklukar urges vaccination to keep businesses open in autumn

Ljubljana – Health Minister Janez Poklukar made a case for vaccination to prevent an autumn wave of the coronavirus epidemic and potential business closures as he addressed the management board of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) in Ljubljana on Wednesday. “I’m afraid of the autumn if we don’t have a high enough vaccination rate.”

As for digital coronavirus certificates, he said “in the coming week, all citizens vaccinated twice will receive a written document to their home address”.

“After 30 June, we’ll also do a document for all who have had a positive PCR test in the last six months and have been vaccinated once, as they will have the status of a vaccinated person.”

Later on, such certificates will be issued at vaccination points upon vaccination, while a certificate of vaccination or PCR test result could also be obtained at a pharmacy for a certain price, the minister announced, adding that an app should be launched by 30 June to enable access to the zVem portal.

Poklukar said that a broad use of the digital certificate “is an opportunity for business sectors to remain open or to remain open longer”.

The Health Ministry is also testing Austria’s model of self-testing so that individuals could get five test kits a month at a pharmacy for own use.

He said that “it would make sense to translate the system of rapid testing into self-testing if only the health experts allowed it”.

Business executives welcomed the effort to enhance vaccination and urged the government to adopt the necessary legislative changes so that they could check on the ground if a worker meets the conditions of being vaccinated and tested or if he has recovered from Covid.

The minister also outlined the bill on long-term care and another on investments and emergency measures in healthcare, both of which the government adopted last week.

The new GZS president, Tibor Šimonka, meanwhile presented his vision for the chamber and highlighted the role of social dialogue.

He cautioned against parties on the Economic and Social Council leaving this forum. “At the time of polarisation, we could act as common sense to bring moderation and tolerance to mutual relations.”

Šimonka was also critical of the government’s plans to draw EU funds for future transformation, saying it was “a disgrace” the business sector would only get 17% of the fund, with the rest going to the public sector.

“We need to change the structure and profile of the planned distribution of these funds, at least in stage one, when the bulk of grants will be available,” he said, adding the business sector should get at least 40% of the funds in the first stage.