Slovenia becomes first European country to call official end to coronavirus epidemic

Slovenian prime minister says virus has been ‘tamed’ and claims his nation has ‘best epidemiologic picture in Europe’

Adam Forrest
Friday 15 May 2020 17:16 BST
Coronavirus in numbers

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Slovenia has become the first European country to declare an official end to its coronavirus epidemic, as it lifts some of the border controls put in place during the outbreak.

The nation's government believes the disease has been brought under control after health authorities confirmed fewer than seven new coronavirus cases each day for the past two weeks.

Prime minister Janez Jansa told the country’s parliament: “Slovenia has tamed the epidemic over the past two months ... Today Slovenia has the best epidemiologic picture in Europe.”

People now arriving in Slovenia from other European Union states will no longer be obliged to go into a quarantine for at least seven days, as had been the case from early April.

A quarantine of at least 14 days will remain in place for people from non-EU states, except for some exemptions including diplomats and people transporting cargo. Any foreign citizens who show signs of infection will still not be allowed to enter the country.

The country, which declared an epidemic on 12 March, has so far reported 1,464 cases of coronavirus infection and 103 deaths from the disease.

It is unclear what the official “taming” of the disease will mean for the daily lives of people in Slovenia.

The government had already begun easing the nation lockdown from 20 April. Public transport resumed earlier this week, while next week some pupils will begin returning to schools.

All bars and restaurants as well as small hotels with up to 30 rooms will also be allowed to open from the start of next week for the first time since the shutdown was enforced in mid-March.

Citizens will still have to follow basic rules to prevent a possible spread of infection, the government said, without elaborating how much would change.

People have been required to wear masks in indoor public spaces, stand at least 1.5 metres apart and disinfect hands upon entering public spaces.

Slovenian citizen joins other cyclists in capital Ljubljana to protest against centre-right government
Slovenian citizen joins other cyclists in capital Ljubljana to protest against centre-right government (AFP via Getty Images)

According to Reuters, the end of epidemic means some government support measures – including financial aid to citizens and firms hit by the coronavirus – would be allowed to expire at the end of May.

Last week saw thousands of people cycling through the streets of the capital Ljubljana to protest against Mr Jansa’s centre-right government.

Activists accused the prime minister of using the pandemic to increase police powers and restrict the freedom of journalists and non-governmental organisations.

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