The recovered-vaccinated-tested rule, currently Slovenia’s main tool in combating a surging fourth COVID-19 wave, has been expanded to broad areas of services activities amidst rising case numbers and hospitalisations.
All those who come into contact with other persons or are involved in settings or activities where there is a direct risk of an outbreak must meet the recovered-tested-vaccinated requirement.
For the unvaccinated and those who have not had yet caught COVID-19, this means they will have to undergo mandatory testing once a week.
The rule now applies to staff in sectors including healthcare, public administration, education, social services, retail, cultural activities and sports. Police officers and security services staff are covered as well.
Residents of care homes and prison inmates, asylum seekers residing in asylum centres, and hospital visitors must comply as well.
Exemptions include children up to the age of 12, parents bringing young children to kindergarten or school, and customers of certain services and retail establishments.
Face masks are mandatory in most indoor settings, including shops and schools, though children in the first five grades of primary school do not have to wear masks during class.
The new rules took effect on Monday but the government has said it expects compliance to be gradual considering how sweeping the change is.
Slovenia has seen cases surge in recent weeks and exponential growth is expected to continue given that the country has one of the EU’s worst vaccination rates with 43% of the entire population and 52% of adults currently being fully vaccinated.
Government officials have insisted that lockdowns are out of the question at this point and have pledged that schools will close only as a last resort. But with cases growing at breakneck pace and hospital numbers rising in lockstep, it is widely expected that a new tightening of restrictions is imminent despite the danger it poses to the faster-than-expected economic recovery.