Gov't approved stricter Covid measures. If ineffective, hard lockdown will follow

FFP2 respirators will be obligatory, some schools will close again.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR/AP)

After several days of negotiations between PM Igor Matovič and scientists and epidemiologists, who were invited to discuss ways to improve the deteriorating situation surrounding the pandemic in Slovakia, new measures have been introduced. They were approved by the government on Sunday evening.

The aim of the new anti-epidemic rules should be to lower mobility, decrease the spread of the infection and prevent the import of new mutations and slow the increase of the number of hospitalisations in the upcoming three weeks.

If the new measures fail to achieve that aim by March 21, the country will prepare for the implementation of a strict limitation of movement, suspension of production and the closure of the country.

The new measures are the following:

  • From March 8, it will be compulsory to wear FFP2 masks in shops and on public transport.
    From March 15, FFP2 respirators will be compulsory indoors
    . This measure does not apply to children who wear masks.
  • Kindergartens and the first four years of primary schools will be open only for children of employees who have to go to work physically. Employees and pupils will be tested twice a week on their own with self-tests.
  • People who test positive with Covid-19 will not be able to leave home unless they are visiting a doctor or going to the pharmacy. Until now, they could go shopping for essentials if they did not have someone who could shop for them.
  • The government wants to require a 72-hour negative Covid test for entrance to Slovakia from cross-border commuters from neighbouring countries and keep in place the other conditions of the border regime.
  • Travelling between districts for the purpose of outings in nature is prohibited.
    Inhabitants of Bratislava can travel within the Bratislava Region.
    Inhabitants of Košice can also go to the Košice-okolie district.
  • As of Wednesday, March 3: Between 5:00 and 20:00, inhabitants can go out for essential reasons. The new rules and exceptions will apply until at least March 19, 2021.
  • The curfew applies between 20:00 and 1:00, but those travelling to work (if necessary) and the doctors are exempt. So are people going out into nature and walking pets.
  • All members of a household in Covid quarantine will be entitled to the Covid benefit. This should motivate people to strictly observe quarantine rules. The care of a family member (OČR) benefit and incapacity for work (PN) benefit should also increase.
  • The vaccination strategy should be updated based on available data from clinical trials. The Covid automat warning system should also be renewed in accordance with the accepted strategy of testing and other measures.
  • Weekly sequencing of at least 500 randomly selected positive Covid-19 samples should be initiated promptly. Once every two weeks, all positive samples should be tested for the presence of the British and South Africa variants.

The government will provide more information on the new measures on March 1. The Slovak Spectator will bring more details then.

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