News digest: Situation gradually improves, Slovakia will lift more measures

Five districts will reopen all schools. Assisted census will start in May.

PM Eduard Heger announced further lifting of measures on April 21. (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. This is a free-of-charge service for our readers. If you want to support us, become a subscriber and get access to more detailed news and interesting feature stories from Slovakia.

Restaurant terraces and fitness centres will open

Although Slovakia will remain in the dark red tier of its Covid automat system for at least another week, the government decided to make concessions for the hardest-hit businesses and reopen restaurant terraces and fitness centres from next Monday, April 26, under strict hygienic conditions. The details are expected to be published on Friday.

The better situation seems to be reflected in the map of districts too as more will switch to the red tier, and one even to the light red tier. There will be 22 districts in the dark red tier, 52 in the red tier, and five in the light red tier. No district will be in the worst, black tier.

The change also awaits schools. Currently, they are following the national Covid automat rules, but from next Monday, they will follow the regional rules. This means that the light red districts will reopen all schools, while in red districts, grades five-nine will reopen, in addition to the already opened classrooms. The schools in dark red tiers will follow the currently valid rules.

Restaurant terraces and fitness centres will open next week Read more 

Other Covid and vaccination developments

  • 764 PCR tests out of 7,429 carried out on April 20 came back positive, which represents 10.28 percent. Out of 147,027 antigen tests, 559 were positive (0.38 percent).
  • The US company Johnson & Johnson will restore the supplies of its Covid vaccines to Europe after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed that the overall benefit-risk remains positive. A warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be added to the product information for the vaccine.
  • Altogether 64 people older than 85 years were registered in the virtual waiting room for the Covid vaccine as of Monday, April 19, while there were also 68,000 people in their 60s and 30,000 people in their 40s. The data shows that people aged 50 and more are not very interested in vaccination. (Denník N)
  • Slovakia should receive 15,000 packages of Bamlanivimab, an investigational monoclonal antibody to treat Covid-19, in the coming months. The country paid €12.9 million including VAT.

Press freedom deteriorates

Slovakia dropped two positions to 35th place in the latest ranking of press freedom, issued by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

In its evaluation, the organisation mentioned the Ján Kuciak murder trial, the attacks by the prime-minister-turned-finance-minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO), the postponed legislative plans to protect journalists, and the independence of privately-owned media.

“Journalism is the best vaccine against disinformation,” commented RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire. “Unfortunately, its production and distribution are too often blocked by political, economic, technological and, sometimes, even cultural factors.”

Journalism is the best vaccine against disinformation. Press freedom in Slovakia has deteriorated Read more 

Picture of the day

The reconstruction of a junction of two runways of the Bratislava airport started on April 20.

Feature story for today

Poverty-stricken young athletes Daniel Kováč and Annamária Horváthová used to train in ripped shoes and ballerina flats. Where are they now and how has the pandemic impacted their training?

The talented Roma who are becoming Slovakia's future Olympic hopefuls Read more 

In other news

  • The assisted census in Slovakia will be held between May 3 and June 13.
  • Sme Rodina chair and Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár reportedly plans to nominate Michal Aláč to become the new director of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency. He currently serves as the agency’s deputy.
  • The criminal prosecution of former PM Vladimír Mečiar in the case of the abduction of the son of ex-president Michal Kováč has been stopped. The prosecution was originally restored in December 2019.
  • Businesses in gastronomy and tourism can start submitting applications for state assistance for the loss in revenues they experienced between November 2020 and March 2021.
  • The completion of the cross-country D1 highway stretch between Lietavská Lúčka and Dubná Skala, including the Višňové tunnel, worth more than €254.8 million, will start on Friday, April 23.
  • The public finance deficit in 2020 amounted to €5.609 billion, which represents 6.16 percent of GDP. The general government debt amounted to €55.181 billion, or 60.57 percent of GDP.
  • The Mondelez company will invest in the modernisation and expansion of its Bratislava-based plant, increasing the production by one-fifth to nearly 27,000 tonnes a year.

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If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at editorial@spectator.sk.

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