Slovenia opts for moderate pre-Christmas tightening of restrictions –

Slovenia has opted for only a moderate tightening of coronavirus restrictions before the Christmas holidays amid a persistent fall in cases that contrasts with the surge of the Omicron variant in many other European countries.

The government has tightened quarantine rules by determining that people at high risk of contact with an infected person are exempted from quarantine only if they have received a booster shot of a coronavirus vaccine and by limiting the number of people in shops to one person per ten square metres.

And on Thursday, it plans to also limit the number of spectators at sports events and impose limits on New Year’s Eve gatherings, according to Health Minister Janez Poklukar.

Several restrictions have been in place for much longer, most notably an indoor mask mandate and a mandatory COVID pass to access most services.

The restrictions are milder than in many other European countries but reflect the long decline in new cases after an early-autumn surge. The number of confirmed Omicron cases remains low as well, even as experts have warned that Omicron is set to become the dominant variant.

But they also reflect the balance of power in government, where Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, who heads one of the coalition parties, wields more power than the non-partisan health minister.

Indeed, Počivalšek has repeatedly said businesses could not afford new lockdowns and pledged to do everything to avoid closures of the kind that hobbled the economy in 2020.

(Sebastijan R. Maček |

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