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Gatherings of up to 100 people allowed in Slovenia

Gatherings of up to 100 people allowed in Slovenia

The government conceded to a Constitutional Court ruling highlighting public gatherings as a fundamental human right

Indoor or outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted across Slovenia from Monday under a government decree issued in response to a Constitutional Court decision overturning the blanket ban on public assembly, reports The Slovenia Times, quoting STA.

Motivation of court decision

Last Thursday, the Constitutional Court stayed the implementation of a government decree that temporarily banned “all events, rallies, celebrations and weddings’’ due to the worsening Covid-19 situation. The judges argued for the adoption of a new decree which should strike a balance between the health risks posed by gatherings and their constitutional importance as a fundamental human right and an essential tool of expressing political views.

On 12 April Slovenia ended an 11-day circuit breaker lockdown and entered the red tier of coronavirus restrictions. Under the amended traffic light system, limited gatherings of up to ten people were allowed only in the orange tier and the ban on public assembly could be lifted in the yellow tier.

Distancing rules and mask wearing

The new government decree which comes into force on 19 April stipulates that up to 100 people will be able to congregate indoors and outdoors under strict distancing rules. Indoors, there must be at least 30 square metres of space per person or per members of one household, and masks will be mandatory. Outdoors, one person can gather per 10 square metres and a distance of 1.5 metres between persons must be observed.

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said that a special permission from the National Institute of Public Health (NIHZ) would not be required, but any gatherings must be still registered with the authorities according to the law.

Defending government measures

The minister reproached the Constitutional Court for apparently having decided that the right to public assembly takes precedence over public health. He acquiesced that French and German constitutional courts have also ruled in favour of a 100-person limit on public gatherings, but was quick to note that these rulings were made at a time when the coronavirus situation in France and Germany was much better than that in Slovenia at the moment (230,826 active cases, 4,147 fatalities, 199.6 deaths per 100,000 people).

Defending the previous public assembly rules, Hojs said the government’s aim had been to curb transmission and ease the pressure on hospitals, in accordance with international expert studies. This week, the government will also examine how to regulate other types of assembly, such as weddings, announced Hojs, adding that there is no reason why there should be discrimination between different types of events.

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