LJUBLJANA (Reuters) – Slovenia plans to tighten border controls for some European Union citizens to prevent a possible import of the new coronavirus, the government said on Monday, partially rowing back from a decision last week to let all EU nationals in.
The move reflects public disquiet that visitors from countries badly affected by the virus, such as neighbouring Italy, could inadvertently bring it with them.
On Thursday Slovenia became the first European country to declare an official end to its coronavirus epidemic.
The small Alpine nation of two million people has so far reported 1,466 coronavirus cases and 104 deaths. Over the past two weeks it has confirmed at most four new cases per day and has begun to relax its lockdown restrictions.
The government will regularly publish a list of EU and Schengen-area countries whose citizens are able to enter Slovenia without restrictions, spokesman Jelko Kacin told a news conference. The Schengen area is a passport-free zone comprising most EU member states and several others such as Norway.
The Slovenian government list will be based on the coronavirus situation in each country, Kacin added. He did not say when it would be published.
The first passenger flights to and from Slovenia are expected to resume on May 26 following an eight-week suspension of most air traffic, police official Melita Mocnik told the same news conference.
Visitors from non-EU and non-Schengen countries can still be ordered into an obligatory 14-day quarantine, the government said, with exemptions for truck drivers and people passing through Slovenia without staying overnight.
On Monday Slovenia allowed all shops, bars and restaurants to reopen after the lockdown. Some pupils also returned to schools, though most will continue to follow lessons online until the end of the school year in late June.
Citizens are still obliged to wear face masks in indoor public spaces and to disinfect their hands when entering such areas. Up to 50 people can gather together but they have to respect a distance of at least 1.5 metres between them.
(Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Gareth Jones)