Masks will not be compulsory outside, schools open in June

Slovakia enters fourth stage of easing coronavirus measures.

PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) when introducing the 4th phase.PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) when introducing the 4th phase. (Source: SITA)

Masks will no longer have to be worn outdoors, the regime on the state borders will be relaxed and kindergartens and schools will be reopened. Slovakia is preparing to enter the fourth stage of moderating restrictions adopted to slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is the result of a very good epidemiologic situation and the fact that recent new coronavirus cases have been identified either in state quarantine or in identified epidemic centres, like Roma settlements.

“We know promises should be fulfilled,” PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) said on May 18.

While most measures will come into force on May 20 or May 21, schools and kindergartens will open only two weeks later, on June 1.

Changes after May 20

Changes to the 2nd and 3rd phase:

  • Tattoo and piercing salons to open on May 20.
  • Indoor tourist attractions will open on May 20, except for zoos and botanical gardens.
  • In shops and service operations, the limit for customers will change from 25 square metres per customer to 15 square metres per customer.

Measures within the 4th phase:

  • Cinemas, theatres and other mass events will be allowed. The number of participants cannot exceed 100 people.
  • Shopping centres can open, apart from playgrounds. The operators of shops within the shopping centres will have to maintain certain restrictions, like offering hand disinfection, restricting the number of customers to one customer per 15 square metres and keeping a 2-metre distance between customers. There will be a ban on people gathering in common spaces.
  • Indoor swimming pools and sports venues will open for sports teams only.
  • Outdoor sports venues will now be open for contact sports and people will be allowed to visit the toilet. There is still a ban on using changing rooms and having spectators there.
  • Restaurants with indoor seating will be open. They will have to observe the same limits as for outdoor seating, like keeping a 2-metre distance between the table corners and disinfection of surfaces after guests leave. They must also limit the number of people at one table to 2 people or one family with children. The restaurants can remain open until 22:00.
  • Meetings set by law, like municipal council meetings, party congresses and shareholders’ meetings, will be allowed without any restrictions to the number of participants.
  • People will not be required to wear masks outdoors if the distance between people not living in the same household is at least 5 metres.
  • People with permanent or temporary residence in Slovakia travelling to the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Germany who return within 24 hours will not be required to take the coronavirus test and undergo mandatory quarantine after May 21.
  • The requirement to close shops on Sundays and selected hours for seniors remain in place.

The Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) will work on more detailed conditions in the next two days.

Kindergartens and schools open

Before schools open, school authorities will carry out a survey among parents about the interest in placing children in school or kindergarten.

  • Kindergartens for all children, primary schools for first to fifth graders and children’s clubs open on June 1.
  • The limit for the number of children per one group in kindergartens is 15, in primary schools, it is 20. The groups should not change within one week, and the same teacher should remain with the given group.
  • Children will not be required to wear masks within their groups. In primary schools, pupils are required to wear masks outside their groups. Teachers should wear masks or transparent face coverings.
  • Schools and kindergartens are open to all children, but they are recommended to place primarily the children of medical workers, paramedics, police officers, firefighters, armed forces members, teachers, and pre-school children. The school authorities can set other criteria, like taking in children from disadvantaged communities. At the same time, children from families in quarantine will not be allowed to attend kindergartens or schools.
  • Parents can decide to keep pupils from first to fifth grade at home. Remote education, plus pupils from sixth to ninth grade, should be ensured within the personnel and technical capacities of schools.
  • Children should be brought and taken only by people living in the same households.
  • Schools and kindergartens should prevent gathering in front and inside the buildings. They should also set individual times for parents to bring their children and measure their body temperature before entering the building.
  • Primary schools will be allowed to adjust the content and form of education.
  • The operation of kindergartens and schools should not be longer than nine hours a day.

The Education Ministry is currently discussing with the Administration of State Material Reserves how to secure disinfection.

Restrictions in health care change

  • The 14-day quarantine before planned surgeries has been cancelled.
  • Only patients from at-risk groups will be tested for the coronavirus before surgery.
  • Pre-surgery check-ups will be carried out again by general practitioners and internists.

Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) did not specify when the national emergency in health care will be cancelled.

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