Stores reopening amid complaints about testing

Ljubljana – Many stores in Slovenia opened on Saturday following several months of being closed for in-person shopping, after the government last night gave the go-ahead for the nation-wide reopening of a large segment of services businesses. There is some concern about testing since staff in many types of shops will have to be tested for coronavirus weekly.

Under a government decree that took effect on Saturday, all shops and workshops under 400 m2 may open regardless of the goods they are selling or service they are performing. Some services that have long been shut down, for example real estate agencies, may reopen as well.

The reopening comes with a broad testing mandate.

Even in stores that were operating in the strictest black tier of restrictions, for example grocery shops, drug stores, farmers’ markets and shops selling medical equipment, weekly testing of staff will be required from 12 February.

In some services, most notably beauticians, real estate agencies, tutoring and pet salons, both staff and customer must produce a negative test to conduct business.

The reopening has been welcomed by business representatives, but there is concern about how to organise testing for staff and whether it is absolutely necessary that customers be tested as well.

Branko Meh, the head of the Chamber of Trade Craft and Small Business (OZS), says all business representatives accepted staff testing at Thursday’s meeting with the government.

But there was “no talk” about the testing of customers. If there were, businesses would be opposed to this proposal, he said today.

Members of OZS are also concerned how to conduct testing before stores reopen.

Rapid testing is not available on weekends, Monday is a bank holiday, and on Tuesday the majority of rapid testing sites are reserved for teachers.

The OZS said it hoped the testing of staff would be a temporary measure.

The Chamber of Commerce (TZS), which represents retailers large and small, likewise expressed concern about testing and said retailers expected the reopening to involve more types of businesses.

“We hope that next Wednesday, when the government reviews the epidemiological situation once again, we’ll be in the orange phase and all stores can reopen,” TZS president Mariča Lah told TV Slovenija.