UPDATED: 4. JAN 2021, AT 18:10

Closed ski centres and churches, stricter curfew. Cabinet toughens up measures

Restrictions come into force already on January 1.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

Following the dramatic deterioration of the situation in Slovakia, the cabinet has adopted several restrictions that will come into force already on January 1 at 5:00. They will be in place until January 24.

The cabinet members agreed on abolishing several exceptions from curfew. They are also calling on people to restrict meeting with people not living in the same household.

People who are already in small bubbles (i.e. two households spending Christmas holiday together), do not have to dissolve immediately. However, they are recommended not to meet with another household.

“Given the critical epidemiological situation in Slovakia and the measures adopted on December 12 not having had sufficient effect, I’m glad that the cabinet unanimously agreed on stricter measures,” Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) told the December 31 press conference.

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PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) said in a special address that the situation is quite serious, with hospitals full and thousands of healthcare staff exhausted.

“These are our victims, we have sacrificed them at the altar with our irresponsibility and disregard of rules,” he added.

Measures applied from January 1

Several exceptions will be abolished from January 1 at 5:00:

  • the ban on any visits between households;
  • ski centres will have to be closed;
  • hotels will have to adopt new conditions. Already accommodated guests will be allowed to stay, but their stay cannot be prolonged. Hotels cannot take any new guests.
  • churches will be closed to the public;
  • it will be prohibited to eat food outside restaurants or buffets. Takeaways will be allowed.
  • employees will be recommended to work from home (unless they are required to be at their workplace).

Exceptions from curfew that remain in place:

  • travel to work;
  • going to the nearest shop (groceries, chemist’s), pharmacy, doctor, bank, post office, insurance agency, cleaner’s, car repair shop, petrol station;
  • taking care of relatives who need it;
  • taking care of pets (within 1,000 metres from one’s home) and farm animals;
  • going to funerals;
  • going out into nature; but only within the district where people live;
  • testing.

The Education Ministry wants to launch its plan to help children return to schools linked with mass testing on Monday, January 8. This plan may still be postponed, Education Minister Branislav Gröhling (SaS) said.

Mass events

The Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) published on January 4 specifications on mass events that can be held during the curfew, such as funerals, wedding ceremonies and christenings. Currently, it is possible to hold them if there are no more than six people.

Specifications include:

  • The total number of participants (six) does not include the people who organise the funeral, wedding or christening.
  • The limitation applies to events held both inside and outside.
  • All participants have to observe basic hygienic measures, which includes maintaining a 2-metre distance (apart from cases when it cannot be observed due to the character of the event).

The organiser of the mass event, i.e. the person organising the ceremony, is responsible for enforcing the above guidelines. The regional ÚVZ offices (RÚVZ) can toughen up conditions if the situation in the region worsens.

If the number of participants exceeds six people, all participants are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result (PCR or antigen) no older than 12 hours and the event must be reported to the respective RÚVZ at least 48 hours before it is held.

The situation is serious

Meanwhile, the situation in Slovakia is quite serious. Slovakia is currently in the black zone of its recently approved COVID automat alert system.

There are currently 2,672 coronavirus-positive patients in hospitals, with 228 on artificial lung ventilation. According to the current prognoses, the number of patients may increase to 3,000-3,600 by January 11, while the number of people on lung ventilation may be as high as 239-282, Krajčí said.

At the same time, the share of positive tests on the total number of tests carried out daily is rising, with more than 25 percent in the case of PCR tests and more than 8.8 percent in the case of antigen tests.

The number of empty COVID-19 beds in hospitals is decreasing too. In addition, some 3,100 healthcare workers are on sick leave.

Read more about the coronavirus outbreak in Slovakia:

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