News digest: Cabinet extends national emergency, but not curfew

The coalition partners clash over the financing of a health insurer and community testing. President remembered WWI victims and veterans. Read our latest digest.

Slovakia commemorates the end of WWI and the veterans on November 11. (Source: SITA)

This is the overview of news that happened in Slovakia on Wednesday, November 11, 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.

Finances for state health insurer leads to dispute

The cabinet's decision to allocate €98 million for the state-run Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (VšZP) has led to another dispute between the coalition partners. The insurer already received a €100-million injection last month.

The Health Ministry claims that with this step, it is behaving like a good investor by securing available health care and the insurer’s progress.

However, the decision has been criticised by the junior coalition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), as well as health analysts and private health insurers.

Related articleAllocating money for state-run health insurer triggers another dispute in coalition Read more 

National emergency prolonged

The national emergency declared in Slovakia on October 1 will be prolonged by 45 more days, not by 90 as proposed by the central crisis staff.

This means that instead of November 14, the national emergency will last until the end of this year, as stems from the cabinet decision.

On the other hand, the cabinet did not approve the proposed changes to the curfew, which will end on November 14. PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) has already implied that the government can find other ways to prevent the gathering of people at night.

Related articleNational emergency will be prolonged Read more 

Matovič proposes community testing

Restaurants, hotels, fitness centres, swimming pools, schools and churches, which have been closed by the state to help contain the coronavirus, might be able to reopen, but only if they organise community testing with antigen tests, according to the recent plan presented by PM Igor Matovič.

Those interested are required to organise the testing (which includes finding an adequate place for testing), while the necessary materials, including tests, police officers or soldiers, would be secured by the state. To keep these facilities open, it will be necessary to repeat the testing once every three weeks.

The final decision should be made by Friday, November 13.

The idea has already been criticised by some businesses. Richard Sulík, economy minister and chair of the junior coalition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), has also been critical. He has called on the government to listen to the experts. In his opinion, the businesses are set to stand in for the state and turn their operation units into testing centres.

Matovič has defended the idea, though. He has responded that it is only a proposal and if it does not pass, a hard lockdown is not out of the question.

Related articleWant to open? You should test people, the prime minister suggests Read more 

Other coronavirus-related developments

  • Altogether 2,058 people of nearly 13,000 tested on November 10 were diagnosed with the coronavirus. Another 24 people died and more than 1,500 recovered from the disease.
  • The 25 testing sites opened by the Fire and Rescue Corps (HaZZ) tested 10,713 during the first two days of being open. 110 tested positive.
  • The number of approved applications for loan deferrals has amounted to more than 128,000. In October, 4,580 were approved, according to the data of the Slovak Banking Association.

Picture of the day:

Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová commemorated the 102nd anniversary of the end of WWI and Veterans Day by laying a wreath at the memorial in the military cemetery in Bratislava’s Petržalka. Peace is a value we have to protect constantly, she said.

Feature story for today:

Companies also promote responsible behaviour during the pandemic

Expert volunteering, increased transparency in the chocolate production process and the creation of a system that collects real data about waste in households: These are just some projects organised by Slovak companies that have been awarded for their responsible and fair business.

“Companies emphasise responsibility much more now than in the past and are aware of their impact,” said Michal Kišša, one of two executive directors of the Pontis Foundation.

Altogether 52 projects competed for the Via Bona awards, of which 17 finalists were shortlisted in six categories. Find out more about this year’s laureates.

In other news

  • Slovakia wants to enter the proceeding in the case of the death of Slovak Jozef Chovanec in Belgium on the side of the injured party, which means it would be able to see the file or propose evidence. The cabinet tasked Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (Za Ľudí) and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS) with taking steps to take part in the criminal proceeding at its November 11 session.
  • The Stop Hazard with Health initiative has been supported by more than 45,000 people since it was launched two weeks ago. The initiative criticises the Health Ministry for its lack of interest in mutual dialogue.
  • The state-run railway company ŽSR will stop the counter sale of tickets at smaller stations and stops from Sunday, November 15 until further notice. They will be sold directly by the train staff or online and via the apps.
  • Councillors in Poprad approved the sale of a 15-percent share in the local water park, whose majority owner is British company Letheby & Sons Limited of Jan Telenský, for €3 million.
  • J&T Real Estate will apply for state support to construct the national congress centre in Bratislava. It wants to establish it in the new Nové Lido quarter, which is on the Petržalka side of the Danube.
  • Altogether 5,298 companies currently reside in tax havens, which is 30 more than in the previous quarter and 300 more than at the end of last year, according to the Bisnode company.

More on

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