News digest: Sulík presents his pandemic plan, but PM Matovič remains critical

Rules for entering Spain change. Former police chief Gašpar remains in custody. State auctions the 5G network frequencies.

Richard Sulík presented his pandemic plan on November 23. (Source: SITA)

This is your overview of news that happened in Slovakia on Monday, November 23, 2020. For a deeper insight into the current affairs, read Last Week in Slovakia published earlier today. If you want to help us to continue bringing news from Slovakia you can trust, buy our online subscription. Thank you.

SaS presents its pandemic plan

The junior coalition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) introduced its own plan to contain the coronavirus, based on the traffic light system. PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) had called on the party’s chair and Economy Minister, Richard Sulík, to do so two weeks ago, after he criticised the community testing plan.

“The current fight against the pandemic is chaotic and the opinions of experts are being ignored,” SaS chair and Economy Minister Richard Sulík told the November 23 press conference.

The party prepared the plan in collaboration with experts. It proposes dividing the regions in Slovakia into riskier and less risky areas and adopting the measures accordingly. This means that less stringent restrictions would be implemented in less risky regions.

The plan is divided into eight chapters, proposing general measures, specific regional measures, a new border regime, and a better tracing of contacts or communication.

Matovič has criticised the document, calling it the road to hell and a populist path. He has opposed the regional differentiation, labelling it irresponsible.

“We have to look at Slovakia has a united country,” Matovič said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Related articleSpecial regional restrictions and better tracing. SaS has introduced its plan to fight the pandemic Read more 

Meanwhile, Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) has also come up with a new pandemic plan, but this has not been presented to the public. The Denník N daily obtained the document, describing which businesses should be opened or closed, and how to set restrictions. It proposes the creation of six zones.

Investments Minister Veronika Remišová (Za Ľudí) commented that politicians should focus on defining the principles the country will follow, and not compete with one another to present a better pandemic plan.

President Zuzana Čaputová commented on the current situation as well, saying that she appreciates everybody who is responsibly approaching the solution to the coronavirus crisis. She appreciated both ministers, and the scientists who have helped.

“It’s better to have two plans than none, and it’s even better to have one joint plan,” she wrote on Facebook, adding that this should now be their goal.

Using only antigen tests for mass testing was the right move

The testing rounds work like the layers of a filter, removing a large fraction of infected individuals in each round, says Daniel Larremore, assistant professor at the Department of Computer Science & BioFrontiers Institute, University of Colorado Boulder.

He is closely watching the development in Slovakia after several rounds of antigen testing. In an interview, he shares his thoughts on the current situation in Slovakia.

Related articleUsing only antigen tests for mass testing was the right move, says American mathematician Read more 

Other coronavirus-related developments

  • Interior Minister Roman Mikulec (OĽaNO) is staying in home isolation, after being in contact with a person positive with the coronavirus.
  • Everybody who comes to Spain via controlled entry (by plane or ship) needs to show a negative PCR test for the coronavirus no older than 72 hours from Monday, November 23. Other types of tests will not be accepted.
  • Slovakia will have a record-high debt at the end of the coronavirus crisis, because the governments did not meet the budget goals during good years, said the Council for Budget Responsibility.
  • Slovak scientists will be involved in discussions about pandemic-related topics. The first one starts on Monday, November 23 at 19:00. From next week, the discussions will be held regularly on Tuesdays, from 18:00. More information here.

Picture of the day:

The village of Skačany (Trenčín Region) can boast of the coypus, which can be spotted close to the nearby lake.

Feature story for today:

Which are the largest law firms in Slovakia?

The years-long trust that law firms have lent The Slovak Spectator, as well our cooperation with the Sme daily and with the Finstat company, has allowed us to bring the professional and general public a more comprehensive picture of law services in Slovakia.

“Apart from the main categories, the results of which we have provided since 2015, we have added five new, partial categories this year,” said Ján Pallo, the publisher of The Slovak Spectator, in charge of the methodology of the rankings.

Check out the results in the main categories. The results for partial categories are the following: M&A, Banking & Finance, Real Estate & Development, Labour law and Litigation & Arbitration.

In other news

  • The Supreme Court senate has turned down the complaints of former Police Corps president Tibor Gašpar and others detained and accused in Operation Očistec (Purgatory) against the decision of the Specialised Criminal Court to take them into custody.
  • The Regulatory Office for Electronic Communications and Postal Services has sold the 5G frequencies, which will be important when building the 5G network, for €100.3 million. The companies Orange, O2 and Slovak Telekom will pay the most.
  • Several non-governmental organisations have addressed the representatives of the government with five requests linked to the completion of the Recovery and Resilience Plan of Slovakia. They want the government to secure a high quality, transparent process of engaging the public, meet clearly defined EU demands to protect the climate and environment, and secure sufficient interdepartmental coordination.
  • The construction authority in the borough of Ružinov has issued a construction permit that will enable the remediation of the landfill in Vrakuňa, situated close to the former Jurij Dimitrov Chemical Plant. The permit is still not valid as the participants in the proceeding can appeal it.
  • Slovakia has signed a new agreement on its participation in the Expo Dubai exhibition.
  • The African swine fever has spread to an 11th district, Revúca. Altogether 378 cases of wild boars and 28 hotspots in domestic breeds have been reported since July 2019.
  • The internet was more popular than television last year, with people spending about 170 minutes on average on it. They watched TV by three minutes less. (Statista)

Also on today:

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Related articleWhere to buy locally produced Christmas presents in Bratislava Read more 

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