This is your overview of news that happened in Slovakia on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. This is a free-of-charge service for our readers. If you want to support us, become a subscriber and get access to more detailed news and interesting feature stories from Slovakia.
Lockdown is an option
Slovakia has only two options in the current epidemic situation: undergo nationwide testing or lock the entire country down, said PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO).
The situation and the next steps will now be discussed by the group of experts and the pandemic commission on October 21, followed by the central crisis staff, which will convene on October 22.
The number of people infected with the coronavirus keeps growing, and the measures introduced on October 15 have not reflected in the daily increases yet. Thus, there is still a lockdown similar to the one in Ireland or Spain in play.
“It’s as if we were travelling on a train whose brakes have stopped working,” Matovič said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “We have to stop the train in some way.”
The prime minister expects the pandemic commission will recommend the lockdown which needs to be in place for at least three weeks to be effective. The economic damages may amount to some €2 billion in such a case.
The possibility of going on lockdown has been mentioned by Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina) too.
Regardless of what the experts decide, the pilot testing in the Orava region and in Bardejov scheduled for the following weekend will take place.
Meanwhile, the Sme daily addressed six constitutional lawyers, asking them about the plan introduced by Matovič which stipulates that those absent from the testing will have to stay in 10-day isolation. They agreed that the interference of personal freedoms presented by the government could be unconstitutional.
Other coronavirus-related news
- Slovakia has a new record in the increase of daily cases, after 2,202 people tested positive for the coronavirus on October 20. The situation is worsening in the districts of Martin, Ružomberok, Liptovský Mikuláš, and Sabinov, which are close to the four most affected districts (Námestovo, Tvrdošín, Dolný Kubín and Bardejov).
- As many as 1,273 medical workers have been infected with the coronavirus so far, including 286 doctors.
- Companies employing more than 5,000 people will be able to test their staff within their own capacities outside the nationwide testing, but only if they give the results to the National Health Information Centre. The antigen tests will be provided by the Defence Ministry.
- Some 8,860 people have registered at the Korona.gov.sk website to help with the nationwide testing to date, including volunteers.
- Ukraine has put the entire territory of Slovakia in the red zone, i.e. the group of countries with a high risk of infection, meaning that people arriving in the country need to show a negative PCR test no older than 48 hours or enter home isolation.
- The deliveries of postal items by the main postal service operator Slovenská Pošta during the national emergency will be limited, in order to curb the possibilities of the coronavirus spreading.
- Airport companies will receive a partial compensation related to the coronavirus crisis, according to the proposal adopted by the cabinet.
- The cabinet approved an amendment to the law on supporting tourism, based on which the Transport Ministry should now prepare a scheme for helping the sector. The state should allocate €100 million for the purpose.
Permanent kurzarbeit is closer
The Slovak government has made another step towards introducing the permanent kurzarbeit.
According to a conceptual draft approved at the October 21 cabinet session, an independent insurance fund should be established for short-term work in 2022. It should, in fact, introduce the permanent kurzarbeit scheme in Slovakia, which should help companies and their staff when hit by a crisis.
The new fund is to be created with contributions by employers residing in Slovakia and the self-employed. The proposal contains several possibilities for paying taxes and payroll levies, while the amount given to an employee should represent 80 percent of his/her net salary.
The Labour Ministry will now prepare the final form of the permanent short-time scheme and send it to the cabinet and parliament for approval.
Abortion legislation will not change
The rules for abortions in Slovakia will not change for now.
The parliament failed to adopt the amendment to the law on health care, submitted by MP Anna Záborská of the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), which had been criticised by many organisations in Slovakia and also abroad.
Only 58 of 117 MPs present supported the proposed changes on October 20.
However, Záborská already wrote on Facebook that she is ready to submit this proposal again in six months.
Picture of the day
For the third time this year, NASA picked a picture taken by Slovak Tomáš Slovinský as its Astronomy Picture of the Day. His latest shot features a dark sky composite combined with over 60 exposure shots spanning over 220 degrees to create a veritable menagerie of night sky wonders. Visible celestial icons include the Belt of Orion, the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, the California Nebula, and bright stars Sirius and Betelgeuse.
Feature story for today
An uncontrolled spreading of the COVID-19 infection in companies who employ thousands of people in retail, transport, or production, would mean huge losses not just for them but also for the state.
They are the biggest companies in the country, employing the highest numbers of people, which also makes them the biggest tax- and payroll-tax-payers.
The first wave of the pandemic, when several hundreds of people were infected, had a significant impact on big employers. They were closing their operation for fear of infection even if they were not ordered to, and they were counting their losses.
The second wave hits much harder: hundreds of infected people are added to the statistics on a daily basis, and the state is again putting restrictions on business.
The biggest employers in the country are reserved in sharing information about infected people among their staff, as well as future potential layoffs, and the impacts of the crisis.
In other news
- The Constitutional Court did not suspend the effectiveness of the law based on which a new general prosecutor should be selected but will still look into the amendment challenged by the group of MPs and the acting general prosecutor, Viera Kováčiková.
- The Climate Needs You initiative has collected more than 120,000 signatures for its petition, which it now wants to submit to the parliament with the request that the MPs discuss it.
- The 13th pensions introduced by the previous government will transform into the state social benefit and will be capped at €300.
- The minimum wage will increase to €623 next year.
- The Specialised Criminal Court set a date for the new trial with the Salmanov family to September 13.
- The city of Bratislava announced a public procurement to find a contractor of the tram in the Petržalka borough, estimated at €90 million, which should be completed by September 2021.
- The private carrier Leo Express will stop all of its trains running from the Czech Republic to Slovakia on Thursday, October 22, at least until December when the validity of the current timetable expires, according to the state-run railway operator ŽSR.
If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also on Spectator.sk today:
21. Oct 2020 at 17:48 | Compiled by Spectator staff