Pandemic may endanger Christmas markets

Slovakia is preparing for the second coronavirus wave. Government not planning to close borders for now.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

Slovakia is preparing for a possible worsening of the situation with the novel coronavirus, or even what some call the second wave of the pandemic.

So much stems from the latest meeting of the Central Crisis Staff on July 14, which also discussed the country's pandemic plan.

“We wanted to assess all our experiences so far in order to better prepare if individual measures need to be used in the future,” Interior Minister Roman Mikulec said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

The Central Crisis Staff met on Tuesday, following a council session of epidemiologists on Monday, to debate the situation in light of the rising numbers of coronavirus infections in the country the past few weeks.

Related articleChief hygienist: We knew infections would go up, we have no plans to close borders now Read more 

Epidemiologists stress that they expected a surge in numbers after Slovakia opened its borders in mid-June, and claim that they have the situation under control for now. The local outbreaks that have occurred all resulted from the infection imported from abroad, the recent analysis has shown.

Christmas markets questionable

PM Igor Matovič said after the weekend that stricter measures might be put in place if the numbers continue to be high, though. The government members have since mainly mentioned the possible limits on mass events.

The crisis staff on Tuesday discussed big events too, such as harvest celebrations, markets and fairs.

Less risky countries added to open list, some conditions for mass events change Read more 

“Today, staff members, as well as chief hygienist, definitely recommended not to organise these events if they are not controlled or a big number of people could meet there,” said Richard Rybníček, mayor of the western Slovak city of Trenčín, as quoted by TASR. He added that such events may be dangerous for people.

It is also questionable whether the popular Christmas markets would be organised in towns and villages this December, he said following the session of the crisis staff.

Higher fine

The epidemiologists who met on Monday recommended imposing only local measures in areas where are a number of coronavirus cases are higher.

The government then proceeded with some changes concerning people coming to Slovakia from abroad. The changes impact higher fines when returning from risky countries and not reporting it to the doctor and hygienists. Hygienists should also have access to a list of mobile phones that returned abroad. Parliament passed these changes to the second reading on July 14.

Following a diplomatic dispute over the travel between the UK and Slovakia, the government announced that the UK will no longer be listed as a red country as of July 20.

No border controls for now

How to travel to and from Slovakia post-coronavirus Read more 

Borders should not be closed for now. The reason is mainly technological. During the weekend police counted 72,000 cars with two and a half people on average in each border crossing. Altogether, it is 180,000 people.

Matovič said that it is impossible to test everyone. “We rely on the responsibility of people,” he said.

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