March 9, 2020 / 5:29 PM / a month ago

Slovenia sets border checks with Italy against coronavirus, aid to firms

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia will start health checks along the border with Italy and at Ljubljana airport to stem the spread of coronavirus and will spend one billion euros to help companies likely to suffer a loss of business, officials said on Monday.

Health Minister Ales Sabeder said that from Tuesday the southeastern European country would also prohibit all indoor events for more than 100 people. It had banned indoor events with over 500 people on Saturday evening.

Sabeder told a news conference that major sports events, like World Cup skiing and ski jumping competitions, will be held without any spectators.

So far Slovenia has confirmed 23 cases of coronavirus and tested about 1,230 people. Its western border is with Italy, which has suffered one of the world’s most severe coronavirus outbreaks with 366 dead as of Sunday.

Slovenia’s Economy Ministry said the one billion euros ($1.14 billion) allocated to help coronavirus-affected companies would mainly be offered as loans, mostly through SID Banka, the country’s development and export bank, and as subsidies.

Troubled companies will also be able to delay tax payments.

“The long-term goal of these decrees is to reduce the damage the companies will surely suffer and ensure that their position on the market does not worsen,” Economy Minister Zdravko Pocivalsek said in a statement.

On Monday several universities decided to suspend classes while some health institutions closed their doors to non-urgent patients.

Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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