This is the Wednesday, March 17, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. Learn about politics, business, and other notable events of the day in Slovakia in less than five minutes. If you like what we are doing and want to support good journalism, buy our online subscription. Thank you.
Situation improves, but Easter will be limited
The epidemiological situation in Slovakia seems to have improved slightly.
Although the number of new daily cases and patients in hospitals remains high, and the country is still classified in the black tier of its warning tier system, the map of districts will look better from next Monday. There will be 20 districts in the black tier (currently, there are 40), 55 in the dark red tier and four in the red tier.
Still, people cannot expect a more significant lifting of measures currently in place during Easter (which takes place in early April this year).
“Easter 2021 won’t be like Easter 2019,” Finance Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO), who is temporarily acting as the health minister too, said on several occasions.
Meanwhile, the cabinet approved the prolongation of national emergency by another 40 days (until late April) and passed several healthcare-related laws. One of the changes should “ensure access to the Covid-19 vaccination for all inhabitants without a difference and regard for social status,” meaning that the vaccination against Covid-19 will also be accessible to Slovak citizens without public health insurance along with foreigners with subsidiary protection, foreigners with tolerated residence and other foreigners as well.
All these proposals need to be approved by the parliament.
Covid and vaccination-related developments
- 2,892 people tested with PCR tests on March 16 were diagnosed with Covid-19, which represents 19.81 percent of 14,601 tests. At the same time, 1,485 antigen tests out of 148,941 were positive (or 1 percent).
- The state launched the long-awaited virtual waiting room on March 17 for those who want to register for the Covid vaccination. More than 60,000 people signed up before 16:00.
- The cabinet wants to prolong the zero VAT on FFP2 and FFP3 respirators until the end of June; the proposal needs a green light from the parliament. Currently, zero VAT is applied only until the end of April.
Coalition crisis continues, Sulík said goodbye
It is still not clear how the coalition crisis will unfold.
Economy Minister Richard Sulík, whose SaS conditioned its stay in the coalition with PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) leaving the prime ministerial seat, said he probably attended his last cabinet session. He is ready to submit his resignation early next week. The party gave Matovič time to decide until next Wednesday (March 24), when its national council is expected to meet.
I respect your decision, but I don’t fully understand your reasons.„
“If nothing happens, SaS ministers will resign next week,” he said.
Another coalition party Za Ľudí is ready to summon a meeting of its leadership and leave the cabinet too, if Matovič does not step down, said its chair Veronika Remišová.
Meanwhile, President Zuzana Čaputová accepted the resignation of Labour Minister Milan Krajniak (Za Ľudí), who will be temporarily replaced by his party colleague and Transport Minister Andrej Doležal.
Picture of the day
Feature story for today
When Mohamad Safwan Hasna moved from his native Syria to then Czechoslovakia as part of a student exchange programme in late 1991, he didn’t know much about the country or its people. Still, he decided to stay here and carried his activities benefiting the Muslim community over to the Islamic Foundation in Slovakia (INS) which was established in 1999.
In other news
- The cabinet approved the resignation of Vladimír Pčolinský, detained on corruption-related suspicions on March 11, from the post of the SIS intelligence service director. The final decision will be made by President Zuzana Čaputová.
- Italian and Slovak police dissolved a network of illegal scrap metal dealers that have earned nearly €130 million through fraud since 2018.
- Slovakia reported the highest increase in deaths out of all EU member states in January, with the number of deceased increasing by 76.7 percent compared to the average. It is followed by Portugal (59 percent) and the Czech Republic (53 percent). (ČTK)
- The cabinet approved the prolongation of unemployment benefits by a further two months. The change applies to everybody whose entitlement for the benefit expired during the coronavirus crisis.
- The KLM CHG company wants to build the Retail Park zone near Chorvátsky Grob (Bratislava Region) with a shopping centre, rented spaces and a sports hall, investing about €6.5 million.
- Syncreon Slovakia, a supplier of logistics services for Jaguar Land Rover, wants to create 350 new jobs by late May.
Also on Spectator.sk today: