Medical experts, not economists will decide on shops. But the world is more diverse than that, says Sulík

The government will present its plan of easing coronavirus measures in Slovakia next Monday.

Richard SulíkRichard Sulík (Source: TASR)

Neither their contribution to the national economy nor the threat of bankruptcy will decide whether small companies and shops will be allowed to open soon. The decision will be mainly up to epidemiologists and infectologists grouped within the council of experts with whom PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) is collaborating.

The decisive factor for opening shops should be, among other things, the number of persons who move around each shop, and the trend in the number of coronavirus infections in Slovakia.

"It is a purely medical- and epidemiology-related issue," the prime minister said. After the tightened measures during Easter holidays, the state has returned to the original measures.

The government plans to present a concrete plan of easing the measures on Monday, April 20.

Related articleGovernment to help all employers and self-employed affected by COVID-19 Read more 

Making decisions without economists, only listening to experts from medical professions, might however lead to bankruptcies of small companies and freelancers, says deputy prime minister and economy minister, Richard Sulík (SaS).

"When I am looking only at the virus and my assignment is to have as few infected cases as possible, then it obviously seems best to close everything and make everyone stay at home," Sulík said to defend the need to open shops under strict hygienic rules. "But this world is more diverse than just one virus. We have got 2 million employees here, there are social aspects."

Even though the spread of the coronavirus in Slovakia is on the decrease and, according to PM Matovič, one person currently infects less than one other person (the R0 factor is lower than 1), the plans to open up shops may be halted due to the development in the Roma settlements and the spread of the virus after Easter.

"Those who travelled home for the holidays have not tricked the government, but themselves and their close ones," said epidemiologist Zuzana Krištúfková, pointing out that it will only be seen in two weeks how the infections might have spread around the country during the holidays.

The potential spread of the infection in Roma settlements where several individuals have tested positive so far would also postpone the decision to open more shops.

"In my private estimate it will not be earlier than in ten days' time," Labour Minister Milan Krajniak (Sme Rodina) said when asked about the possible date when measures could be eased.

Shops will save entrepreneurs but not the economy

The two main arguments the prime minister has voiced against rushing to open the shops and facilities that have been closed is that they only contribute 2 percent GDP to the national economy, and that the restart of Slovakia's economy depends on other countries where the products made in Slovakia are sold.

"Once a German in Germany decides not to buy a Volkswagen, then the Volkswagen plant in Bratislava will not produce it," Matovič explained how open the Slovak economy is.

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