Negative test not required for outings

Government has agreed on the Covid automat, British variant set to become the only mutation in Slovakia soon.

PM Igor MatovicPM Igor Matovic (Source: TASR)

Cabinet ministers have approved the final version of the warning system, which the government has called the Covid automat.

The cabinet made some changes to the automat just two days before it is to be put in place on February 8. Walks in the countryside will not require a negative Covid test result if taken within one's district of residence, not all the schools will open as announced earlier this week and garden stores will open.

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The cabinet also approved the prolongation of national emergency by further 40 days, starting on February 8.

British strain dominates

They took seven hours on Friday to reach a compromise over the system of measures that should take Slovakia through the peaking pandemic in the coming months. The reason why the government expects the pandemic to continue hitting hard is the prevalence of the British variant of the coronavirus which is higher than expected, as PM Matovič put it.

"Almost all of those who will get sick in the coming weeks will have the British strain," PM Igor Matovič said and noted that Slovakia is facing hard times ahead.

Laboratories have tested 1,962 positive samples for the British variant and 74 percent of them turned out positive. In some places, like the Trnava district, 100 percent of the tested samples were positive with the British strain.

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"We understand very well now why the curfew and the measures have not had the effect we expected," Health Minister Krajčí said.

Tougher measures but also some openings

This is why epidemiologists recommended toughening the measures in the Covid automat tier system. The measures that have been announced on Wednesday will be applied for the most part. These are some changes to take a note of:

Related article Mandatory home office or longer isolation. Cabinet changes anti-pandemic rules Read more 

In the regions under tier alerts 3 and 4 a test not more than 7 days old will be required.

Regions in tiers 1 and 2 will require a negative test result no older than 14 days for people going to work. However, people commuting to work on public and regional transport will need a test no older than seven days.

Garden stores and garden centres will be allowed to open as of Monday, February 8.

A negative test will not be required to go for an outing in the countryside within your district of residence. If you're going for an outing to another district, you will be required to have a negative test not older than seven days.

Schools remain closed in the worst-hit districts

Schools will open as planned, but only in regions in lower alert tiers.

In the black districts (alert 4), schools will remain closed. These are Partizánske, Šaľa, Zlaté Moravce, Revúca, Rožňava, Bánovce nad Bebravou, Hlohovec, Trnava, Žiar nad Hronom.

In the dark red regions (alert 3), regional public health authorities will decide about opening schools. Bratislava is in this tier now.

The regional hygienist recommended to postpone the planned opening of schools by another two weeks, according to Bratislava-Ružinov Mayor Martin Chren. Schools will remain closed in Ružinov and Petržalka. The Nové Mesto borough plans to open kindergartens and primary schools on Tuesday, February 9, said its Mayor Rudolf Kusý.

Parents who do not want to send their children to school are allowed to keep them in home-schooling.

The city of Košice and the districts of Trnava, Hlohovec and Piešťany decided to keep schools closed, too.

AstraZeneca vaccines will be given as a priority to teachers, at least 20,000 doses should arrive next week, according to the health minister. He also said on February 6 the vaccination strategy will most probably change.

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