The council of epidemiologists have decided on new rules and have extended Slovakia's red list of countries to become effective as of September 1.
The epidemiologists have identified the hardest-hit regions that they now classify as second phase - Bratislava and surroundings, Trenčín, Rožňava and some eastern districts.
The numbers of imported cases have increased particularly from Czechia (85 so far) and Croatia.
"We do not want to continue such strict measures with regard to the economy," Health Minister Marek Krajčí said, as he stressed that wearing face masks will be key in the coming weeks and months.
Here is what the epidemiologists have proposed:
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New countries on the red list
(quarantine and COVID-19 test required upon return to Slovakia)
Greece has been branded a risky country. It has not yet been added to the red list, but travel there is not recommended in September. The minister said the situation in Greece is expected to worsen and it is possible that it will be added to the red list countries soon.Travelling abroad? You should avoid these regions Read more
New rules for quarantine
Compulsory quarantine for people coming from a red list country will be 10 days instead of the 14 days required currently.
On the fifth day after their return at the earliest, arrivals from red list countries can take a COVID-19 test. If the test is negative, they can wrap up their quarantine even before the required 10 days elapse.
Exemption from the requirement of a negative test will apply to those who are unable to obtain a COVID-19 test appointment before their 10-day quarantine is over. If they are coming from a red list country that is an EU member state (rules for non-EU states see below), and they do not have any, not even mild, symptoms of COVID-19, they can resume their daily work and personal life. The authorities admit this situation might occur in the first weeks of September, when many Slovak tourists are expected to return from countries that have just been marked as red.
"If tens of thousands of holidaymakers return all at once, it may be that capacities will be jammed," Minister Krajčí explained.
The authorities are not planning to use the quarantine app for now, they are relying on the responsibility of people to keep the quarantine rules. Violation of quarantine is classified as a criminal offence and offenders can be fined.
New rules for employersHygienists consider new measure for foreign employees entering their workplace Read more
Employers must require their employees to prove they had been on 10-day-quarantine and/or have taken a COVID-19 test which resulted negative after each trip to a country on the red list.
The employer must have a valid reason why they are requesting this proof from their employees (actual knowledge of where the employee spent their holidays, a business trip, etc). The nationality of the employee in itself is not a valid reason for requesting such a proof, the Radio Slovakia International noted, citing the Public Health Office.
Workers from non-EU countries are only allowed to start working if they provide a COVID-19 test (unlike people arriving from red list countries that are EU member states and who can wrap up their quarantine after 10 days if they do not show symptoms).
Those arriving to Slovakia from Ukraine will be required to fill out the respective form on the korona.gov.sk website. They will be allowed to enter Slovakia only after they have registered.
Ukraine will not allow foreigners to enter for one month starting August 29.
Masks compulsory in schools
Another rule that applies as of the beginning of September, with the start of the school year, is the obligation for pupils from the fifth grade and higher to wear masks at school at all times.
There will be some exceptions:
- pupils of the first to fourth grades in school interiors during the educational process (but it is recommended that they wear the masks if they want to);
- pupils with moderate or severe mental disorder, deaf and hard of hearing.
The ÚVZ has cancelled the following mask-wearing exceptions:
- teachers and professional staff (like teaching assistants or special teachers) during the educational process;
- schoolchildren in primary and secondary schools within the educational process;
- people suffering from some respiratory problems and facial skin problems that may worsen while wearing a mask (because it has often been abused).
The epidemiologists have proposed to ban mass events for more than 1,000 people outside and more than 500 people inside.
There will be an exception for those events whose participants will have a negative COVID-19 test not older than 12 hours.
The ban does not apply to masses, first communions, confirmation, funerals and weddings. It also does not apply to meetings and sessions of state bodies, municipal authorities and sessions summoned by the law.
Police will be watching
The epidemiologists have also listed the environments they consider as risky and recommend people not to attend or, if attending, to be particularly careful: bars, night clubs and discos, social gatherings, festivals, churches.
The police will intensify controls ensuring people stick to the measures. This weekend, they will focus on shopping centres and cultural and social events.
They will also be out in the streets, particularly on buses and trains and at stations on the first two days of September when the school year starts.
The police will also check on foreign workers, in cooperation with the labour inspectorate.
Read more about the coronavirus outbreak in Slovakia:
- These are the measures currently in place in Slovakia
- How Slovakia prepared for the coronavirus
- Do I have the coronavirus? How to proceed if you have a suspicion
- More information about what the coronavirus is and how to protect yourself from the infection (WHO)
- Situation update on EU/EEA and the UK as of March 6 morning
- Q&A: State of emergency declared about coronavirus+