Chief hygienist admitted moderating rules for wearing masks in public (news digest)

Rules for visits to hospitals and rules for artists wearing masks while performing have been moderated. Read your overview of news from May 11.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia from Monday, May 11.
For all news about the coronavirus in Slovakia click here.
For your overview of last week’s events, read Last Week in Slovakia.

Coronavirus in Slovakia (updates)

- For the second time, Slovakia reported no new positive coronavirus cases, thus keeping the total number of infected people at 1,457. Only 786 people were tested on May 10. For more detailed statistics click here.

- Some politicians would like to see the borders opened during the summer. Epidemiologists are not so optimistic though. At the same time, the government is considers how to replace the mandatory state quarantine with home quarantine.

- A large testing of the whole Dreveník settlement, part of the village of Žehra (Košice Region), started on May 11 morning. All 2,053 people who have been in quarantine for more than a month will gradually undergo PCR tests. Currently, there are 25 people who tested positive for the coronavirus in the settlement. Meanwhile, a container centre was built where coronavirus-positive people should be placed. (Korzár)

- More Slovaks living abroad are expected to land in Bratislava airport on May 11. Apart from Slovaks, passengers from the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic will be on board. At the same time, the airport dispatched the plane to the UK. (TASR)

- More than 10,000 residents and employees of nursing homes have been tested for the coronavirus using quick tests. Those with suspicion of being infected were then tested with PCR tests, but all have been negative, said Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO).

- The volume of air traffic above Slovakia fell by 85 percent during the coronavirus pandemic, the Eurocontrol data suggest. Other European countries have seen a similar decrease, while the annual drop during some days in April exceeded 90 percent. (Denník N)

Coronavirus measures in Slovakia

- Chief hygienist Ján Mikas has temporarily released measures for hospital visitations. As a result, fathers can be present at births, while one person can accompany a person released from the hospital or patients with mental disease. Moreover, visitors will be allowed to see dying patients and two people at once will be allowed to visit hospitalised patients who tested negative for the coronavirus. As for children, the relatives of hospitalised children and other children living in the same household will be allowed to visit. The restrictions for hospitals should be fully lifted in the very last wave, said Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO).

- Artists have been given an exception from wearing masks. They do not have to wear them while recording an audiovisual piece or when producing a programme, and when performing. It is necessary to observe certain measures, though. This includes:

  • having a negative PCR test for the coronavirus that is no older than four days, and if the performance continues, having the same test done once every 14 days;
  • keeping at least 2-metre distance between artists and other people present; the distance does not have to be kept between artists;
  • ensure hand disinfection for artists and other people present during the artistic activity;
  • ensure the regular disinfection of the premises where the artistic activity is performed and, if held indoors, ensure regular ventilation;
  • prevent people with a body temperature higher than 37 degrees Celsius or other coronavirus symptoms from entering the premises.

- Wearing masks in public might be relaxed, admitted chief hygienist Ján Mikas. It will be compulsory to wear them indoors with a higher concentration of people, particularly in public transport, trains, public offices and banks.

- The coronavirus may increase the interest of young people in studying at Slovak universities, according to Rudolf Kropil, rector of the Technical University of Zvolen and chair of the Slovak Rectors’ Conference. Currently, there are more than 10,500 students at Slovak public universities coming from various parts of the world. However, twice as many people leave to study abroad.

Coronavirus in business

- U.S. Steel Košice has confirmed that they will ask for state assistance for every month during which the measures impacting their business are in place. At the same time, the company is functioning on a shortened working week, while some units have been put out of operation.

- Bratislava-based carmaker Volkswagen Slovakia will use state assistance to keep jobs. The company perceives it as a positive sign, but states that it will help only partially. It is necessary to introduce a real kurzarbeit scheme for systemic support of healthy companies during crises. (Denník N)

- Slovakia should take a loan of €300 million from the Council of Europe Development Bank. The loan should be used to finance state budget expenditures on moderating the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

- The government has cancelled the ban on exporting protective equipment and disinfectants. Slovak companies can export products such as personal protective equipment, antibacterial soaps, gels, disinfectants and lung ventilation equipment.

Political news

- President Zuzana Čaputová, PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) and Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina) signed a joint declaration on May 9, expressing their will, shared responsibility and pledge to collaborate on a united and responsible foreign, European and security policy for Slovakia. They also want to strengthen the foreign policy consensus.

- The Judicial Council elected Judge Ján Šikuta to lead the Supreme Court. He received 12 out of the 17 votes in the council. He will take up the post after President Zuzana Čaputová appoints him. Another candidate for the post, Judge Ivan Rumana, received no votes from the Judicial Council members.

Štefan Harabin was like Lord Voldemort. He was a prudently intelligent person with no scruples against using his power against those who stood up against him.

Ivan Rumana, unsuccessful Supreme Court president candidate, who also said he saw himself as another character from the Harry Potter series, Professor Snape.

- Former head of the Administration of State Material Reserves, Kajetán Kičura, will be prosecuted in custody. The Supreme Court dismissed at a closed session on May 11 Kičura’s complaint against the original decision from the Specialised Criminal Court issued back in April. Kičura has been charged with accepting bribes and legalising the proceeds of criminal activities.

- Former defence minister Ľubomír Galko has returned to the department. He is supposed to become new CEO of the state-run Letecké Opravovne Trenčín aircraft repair company. (TASR)

- The Mestské Lesy Bratislava municipal forestry company will reopen treehouses for accommodation on May 16, 2020. It will be possible to spend a night in the treehouses on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. After the stay is over, the space will be disinfected. Currently, there is a treehouse in the Dlhé Lúky locality with four-person capacity, and two treehouses in Kačín, one for three people and the other one for four people. (SITA)

- Two red pandas found a new home in the Košice zoo. Two brothers born last June came from Zoopark Chomutov in the Czech Republic.

Economic and business news

- The Fitch agency has downgraded Slovakia’s rating from A+ to A with a stable outlook. The primary reasons are the consequences the coronavirus has had on the Slovak economy, according to the Slovak Finance Ministry.

- Industrial production in Slovakia fell by 19.6 percent year-on-year in March 2020. It’s the lowest level since May 2009.

- The total export of goods amounted to €5.8873 billion, down 19.2 percent year-on-year in March 2020. The total import of goods fell 11.6 percent y-o-y to €6.2189 billion. The foreign trade balance was in deficit, at a value of €331.7 million, according to the Statistics Office data.

- UniCredit Bank decreased interest rates on mortgages for all fixed periods. The interest rates start at 0.79 percent p.a. for three-year fixed period and end at 1.09 percent p.a. for the 10-year fixed period. (Finančná Hitparáda)

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