News digest: President wants the Sputnik contract to become public, Matovič has not even read it

Rules for wearing masks and respirators will change. The pandemic committee has proposed that vaccinated people should not have to undergo testing anymore.

Igor Matovič (Source: TASR)

This is the Thursday, April 15, 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.

It is not true that Russia objected to the lab, president said

The Russian Direct Investment Fund marketing the Sputnik V vaccine did not ask the government to return the vaccines delivered to Slovakia because the laboratory that tested the samples lacked certification, said President Zuzana Čaputová.

She has requested access to the contract between Slovakia and Russia concerning the purchase of the vaccine, which has not been made public. She has also seen a letter that Russia sent to Slovakia on April 6.

Finance Minister Igor Matovič claimed earlier that the Russian side wanted the Sputnik V vaccines back because Slovakia tested them in a laboratory which did not hold OMCL certification, which violated the contract.

Matovič specified on April 15 that the RDIF stated in their letter from April 6 that the reason they were requesting the return of the vaccines was that Slovakia failed to pay for them.

Matovič emphasised that it was not the actual reason. The actual reason according to him was that it was “a matter of honour”.

He also admitted that he has not read the contract for the purchase of the Sputnik V vaccine between Slovakia and Russia.

One reason the Russians are demanding Sputnik V back is that Slovakia did not pay Read more 

PM Heger pays a visit to Czechia

Slovak PM Eduard Heger has taken his first foreign working trip – observing tradition by travelling to the Czech Republic. Heger met with his Czech counterpart Andrej Babiš and Czech President Miloš Zeman.

Heger stressed the good relationship between the countries, the proximity of their languages and the ties between family and friends. Heger also announced that Slovakia will donate 10,000 Moderna vaccines to the Czech Republic.

Czech PM Andrej Babiš noted that Slovakia should have priority once the regime at the borders is lifted. They expect to evaluate the situation next week, but Babiš gave no further details.

New rules for wearing masks and respirators

Masks outside will not be obligatory as long as people are more than five metres apart or they live together in one household. Teachers and pupils do not have to wear a respirator, only a mask.

The Public Health Authority has revised the rules and their ordinance will be valid from April 19.

The new rules will also apply to people who have a chronic disease of the airways or a facial skin disease.

In addition, respirators do not have to be worn by employees who cannot do so due to their way of working or working conditions - but only after agreement between the employer and the employees' representatives. Until now, this was only possible on the basis of a statement from the occupational health service.

Coronavirus and vaccination news:

  • A number of Slovaks have submitted a motion to the International Criminal Court in the Hague citing the performance of disallowed medical experiments linked with mass testing. (TASR)
  • Slovakia could start vaccination with Sputnik V at the beginning of May if Hungary confirms its suitability, PM Eduard Heger said at a press conference in the Czech Republic.
  • The pandemic committee has proposed that vaccinated people should not have to undergo testing anymore. This would apply 14 days after people have received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or four weeks after vaccination with AstraZeneca. This proposal has yet to be approved by the government.

Feature story for today

Three adjoining squares in the heart of Bratislava will receive a facelift. They will be merged into a unified public space without cars and will be planted with greenery to meet climatic requirements, the Bratislava authorities announced as they introduced the winning design by a German team of architects.

German architects design the new look of Bratislava's three central squares Read more 

Other news

  • The assisted part of the census will start on May 3 in the first towns and villages. It will last for six weeks in every town and village. It should be over by October 31.
  • NATO is to withdraw troops from Afganistan after 20 years. Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď stated that Slovak troops will be withdrawn from the country between May 1 and September 11, 2021.
  • The Parliamentary People’s Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) has had yet another member rightfully condemned for crimes of extremism. The Supreme Court found Anton Grňo guilty of the offence of sympathy for a group, movement or ideology that is and has in the past led to the suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms.
  • Slovakia has borrowed €1.5 billion on the financial market. On Wednesday, the state managed to realize the first syndicated bond issue in 2021. These were securities with a maturity of 15 years. Investors will get them with a coupon of 0.375 percent p. a., which represents the lowest level for Slovak government bonds with a maturity of over 10 years. The issue price of the bonds was 99.131 percent and the yield to maturity reached 0.435 percent p.a.
  • The Profesia job-search website noted a record number of IT offers. "Employers published 3,513 job advertisements in March this year. For the first time, the number of IT offers exceeded 3,000," spokesperson Nikola Richterová said.
  • Bratislava-based plant Volkswagen Slovakia will hire 400 new employees soon. It is seeking workers in production for the assembly of vehicles. Nitra-based Jaguar Land Rover will also hire 600 new employees. (Denník N)

Do not miss on today

Slovakia will receive additional Pfizer vaccines Read more  Slovaks more of bear huggers Read more  Some hairdressers are fully booked. They are planning to reopen despite lack of clarity in rules Read more 

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