Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Wednesday, July 28, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.
Court suspends benefits for the partially vaccinated
For the second time this month, the Constitutional Court suspended the effectiveness of new border rules introducing benefits for some partially vaccinated people entering Slovakia.
Much like the first time, when it suspended the effectiveness of the respective ordinance of the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) in mid-July, the court opposed the benefits hygienists gave to partly vaccinated people. At the time, the authorities solved the problem by modifying the rules. According to them, people vaccinated before July 9 with the first shot of the two-dose vaccine are required to self-isolate but can take a PCR test on the first day after their arrival. Those vaccinated with the first dose after July 9 are to be treated the same as the unvaccinated, meaning they must self-isolate and take a test on the fifth day after arrival.
This was supposed to be a temporary measure, expiring on the morning of August 2.
Yet, in its latest decision, the Constitutional Court suspended the effectiveness of this exception. At the same time, it accepted a motion submitted by the opposition, which questions the constitutionality of the entire ordinance, and said it will deal with the matter in a subsequent proceeding.
The suspended paragraph of the ordinance also sets a transitional period for rules applying to children aged 12-18 and cross-border commuters. The rules for them will be subject to further discussion, ÚVZ said.
The decision means no changes to the border regime, though. The ÚVZ said that it is waiting for the written justification of the decision and only after it receives it will it decide on further steps. PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) later confirmed this.
The coalition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) does not expect any fundamental changes since the temporary benefit for the partially vaccinated expires on August 2. The court’s decision becomes effective only after it is published in the Collection of Laws, and this may take a few days.
Third pandemic wave is already here
Although all of Slovakia will remain in the green tier of its Covid automat alert system from next Monday, meaning that the restrictions will only be mild, the epidemiological situation seems to be getting worse.
The reproduction number exceeded 1, and the average number of new cases reported on a weekly basis is also going up.
“We can thus openly say that the third wave has started in Slovakia,” said Martin Pavelka of the Institute of Health Analyses, running under the Health Ministry, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
A characteristic feature of this wave is the Delta variant, which everybody will encounter at some point, he added. The ministry stresses that the most efficient protection is vaccination, but the vaccination rate across the country varies greatly.
Earlier on Wednesday, the opposition party Hlas criticised the government for underestimating the importance of vaccination against Covid and what it called a poor preparation for the third wave. Interestingly, the party’s chair, Peter Pellegrini, has not been inoculated yet, at least according to the information available to the public.
The ministry has rejected the claims made by the opposition, stressing that the preparations are underway.
More Covid and vaccination news
- 82 out of 7,399 PCR tests completed on July 27 came back positive, and out of 5,900 new antigen tests, 15 were positive. There were no new deaths connected to Covid.
- The Labour Ministry has allocated €31.5 million for special bonuses to be granted to 46,463 employees of social services facilities for their work during the pandemic.
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Slovakia at the Summer Olympics
Sports shooter Zuzana Rehák Štefečeková leads the qualification round of the women’s trap after the first day, while another sports shooter, Erik Varga, placed 12th in the first day of the qualification round of the men’s trap.
Slalom canoeist Jakub Grigar advanced to the semi-finals of men’s slalom K-1 from eighth place, and Monika Škáchová made it to the semi-finals of women’s slalom C-1 from 11th place.
Other Slovak athletes were not as successful. Swimmer Andrea Podmaníková and badminton player Martina Repiská did not advance to the next rounds.
Cyclist Lukáš Kubiš placed 37th in the men’s individual time trial.
Picture of the day
Slovakia commemorates 45 years since one of the largest air disasters in the history of Czechoslovakia. On July 28, 1976, the Ilyushin Il-18 aircraft crashed into Zlaté Piesky lake in Bratislava and 76 out of 79 people on board were killed. An exhibition commemorating this event was opened in the capital.
Feature story for today
Opened, forced to close, re-opened, a shot director, two regime changes, and visits from top politicians as well as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – over the years the Bratislava office of the British Council has seen a lot.
But as the institution celebrates 75 years since it first opened its doors in Bratislava, its current director says that the British Council’s mission – to spread awareness of British culture and education, and teach the English language – has always remained the same.
In other news
- The State Nature Protection office had to take action in the case of the second dead bear in the course of 24 hours. It discovered a dead male bear weighing 200 kilograms and a shot female weighing 100 kilograms in Muránska Planina and Poľana. Neither of them came close to human settlements.
- The Council for Budget Responsibility expects that this year’s deficit will stand at 7 percent of GDP, or €6.82 billion. Its recent forecast is a bit better than in June (7.2 percent of GDP), thanks to higher yields from tax and payroll tax incomes, particularly corporate income tax.
- Bratislava-based carmaker Volkswagen Slovakia suspended the production of SUV vehicles in two shifts on Monday due to the chip shortage. It expects its adverse effect on production to culminate in the third quarter of the year, and has not ruled out more changes to its production.
- The company Ringier will take over the shares of Axel Springer in Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In Slovakia, Milan Dubec will stay the minority owner.
- The Trnava-based producer of pools, Reku – Slovakia, wants to build a new factory in Voderady (Trnava Region). The number of people working there should be doubled to 160, the Hospodárske Noviny daily reported.
More on Spectator.sk today
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28. Jul 2021 at 18:14 | Radka Minarechová