Virtually all services establishments and workplaces in Slovenia will require a COVID pass as of Wednesday, in a sweeping tightening of restrictions designed to stem a rapidly deteriorating fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
All workers and even the self-employed will have to be vaccinated, have proof of recovery no more than 180 days old, or test at least once a week, either with PCR tests, rapid antigen tests or self-testing kits.
For workers, the cost of testing will be covered by employers, who are allowed to sanction those who do not comply.
People will also have to show a COVID pass for virtually all services, including in shops, bars and restaurants, in beauty parlours, in doctors’ offices and hospitals.
Only grocery shops and chemists – but only outlets which are not located in malls – will continue to be accessible for those without a COVID pass, as will emergency medical services.
Children up to 12, who cannot be vaccinated yet, are exempted, as are persons who drop off young children in school and students on public transportation.
While COVID passes have been mandatory for come services before, this marks a severe tightening of restrictions as the country battles a deadly surge in infections.
Many businesses have complained that it will be impossible to secure compliance, either due to a shortage of staff or technical shortcomings, and some have taken to social media to announce outright boycotts of the restrictions.
The government has indicated that inspection services will go easy on businesses initially to give people time to get used to the new rules.
Slovenia is currently one of the worst affected countries in Europe and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 population has already exceeded 500.
Vaccine uptake has been sluggish and under 45% of the population have been fully vaccinated, but the pace has picked up in recent days.
(Sebastijan R. Maček | STA)