Slovenia to ease coronavirus lockdown from Monday

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) – Slovenia will from Monday ease restrictions that have been imposed since the middle of March to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, the government said late on Thursday.

Slovenia, which borders Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, has so far confirmed 1,268 coronavirus cases and 61 people have died. Wednesday was the first day since March 29 with no coronavirus-related deaths reported.

Slovenia had closed all shops, apart from food and drug stores. A government statement said that most shops, including those selling furniture, cars, bicycles and construction material as well as car service centers will be opened from April 20.

Hairdressers, beauty parlors and pet grooming centers will open on May 4, the government said.

Schools, kindergartens, universities, libraries and cultural institutions remain closed, while public transport continues to be suspended.

Citizens are still obligated to wear face masks in shops and are not allowed to socialize in public spaces. They are also not allowed to move outside their own municipality except if they need to go to work, to a doctor or in some other exceptional cases.

The export-oriented country, whose economy expanded by 2.4% last year, expects its GDP to contract by at least 6% this year because of the lockdown. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday forecast that Slovenia’s economy will shrink by 8% this year.

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