PM talks about COVID-19 explosions in Roma communities on International Roma Day (news digest)

Traffic jams after limits on movement take effect, positive tests in Roma settlements, coalition conflicts and a new minister appointed. Your overview of news from Slovakia on April 8, 2020.

PM Igor Matovič flew in to Krompachy on Wednesday evening to deal with the coronavirus situation in Roma settlements. PM Igor Matovič flew in to Krompachy on Wednesday evening to deal with the coronavirus situation in Roma settlements. (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from April 8.
For all news about the coronavirus in Slovakia click here.
Read more about the measures currently in place in Slovakia. Stricter rules apply for Easter holidays, starting as of midnight April 8.

Coronavirus in Slovakia (updates)

- 101 out of the 2,042 tests that were conducted on Tuesday were positive. See the statistics for Slovakia.

- 31 of those who tested positive were from five Roma settlements in eastern Slovakia, PM Igor Matovič announced. He flew to the town of Krompachy, a town where seven of the positive cases were located, in the evening. Matovič said he had a plan but did not reveal it before his meeting with the mayors of the municipalities where COVID-19 was detected among the marginalised communities.

How Slovakia copes with the coronavirus (measures)

- The limitations on movement during Easter and police controls of every car that was crossing district borders caused traffic to collapse in several places around the country, most notably Bratislava.

- The tense situation on the roads also caused tension among the coalition partners. SaS leader Richard Sulík criticised OĽaNO leader Igor Matovič for introducing overly stringent measures. Matovič in turn accused the police of sabotaging the limitations on movement by checking every single car.

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- The disputes that mainly took place on social media and at media briefings prompted President Zuzana Čaputová to speak to the prime minister and to the interior minister in the afternoon. Both assured her that the situation should be under control and the checks should only be random.

"I trust that today's situation will not negatively impact our coherence, which we need perhaps most of all in our further fight with the coronavirus."

President Zuzana Čaputová

Coronavirus in business

- The Nitra-based Jaguar Land Rover will not restart production after Easter as originally expected when it closed on March 20. They did not specify the date when they expect cars to start rolling off production lines in Nitra again.

- Slovakia will get over €4 billion, which has not been drawn from the EU funds, to counter the coronavirus situation, the head of the Permanent Representation to the EU Peter Javorčík said. He added that quick and flexible shifts of money between funds and regions will be possible. (TASR)

- Economy Minister Richard Sulík said he considered the reimbursement of rent for the companies that had to close due to the anti-coronavirus measures his priority that he wants to discuss with the coalition partners as soon as possible. He is pondering a model where the state would pay most of the rent. (SITA)

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- Coronavirus increases cap for contactless payments.

- The media business has already been affected by the coronavirus crisis. Some publishing houses expect their advertising revenues to drop by 40 percent.

Foreign policy gets a new head

- Ivan Korčok is now the Foreign Affairs Minister. President Zuzana Čaputová appointed him on April 8. He reiterated that Europe and the EU is where Slovakia belongs. Korčok also said he was saddened to watch the trauma and tragedy that Italy, Spain, and increasingly also France are going through, and said he will try to find out how Slovakia could help them within its limited possibilities.

- The Foreign Ministry should soon get a new state secretary (deputy minister) too: Ingrid Brocková, who currently represents Slovakia at the OECD in Paris, the newly-appointed Minister Korčok said.

International Roma Day marked

- President Zuzana Čaputová in her statement thanked the Roma who are doing "a lot of good things" for Slovakia and expressed her wish to continue sincere dialogue. She noted that the pandemic touches everyone, some more than others due to higher age, a poor financial situation or a lack of proper housing. Roma people, on top of that, face prejudice due to their ethnicity. "I want to assure you that I am the president of all [in Slovakia]," Čaputová said.

- Government Proxy for Roma Communities Andrea Bučková said she wished our society could use these hard days as an opportunity to promote the need to lower differences between the Roma and the majority population, in education, employment, access to housing, and in health. "Postponing the solution to these problems and social exclusion results in the negative perception of the inhabitants of marginalised Roma communities."

- The Slovak National Centre for Human Rights called on opinion leaders to lead the society to tolerance and inclusion towards Roma communities. (SITA)

- Amnesty International Slovensko called for an end to the stigmatisation of the Roma during the COVID-19 pandemic. They called on the government to make sure the protection of human rights will be at the heart of any measures that the country will take to deal with the public health crisis. The pandemic makes the Roma living in segregated settlements even more vulnerable, and reveals how hard it is for them to adhere to the public health recommendations.

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