News digest: Changes to Covid alert system can help some districts avoid lockdowns

Representatives of municipalities welcome the new tier system. Health care reform introduced. More in today's digest.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Wednesday, August 11, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.

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Cabinet approves new alert system

The third pandemic wave will probably not bring the same national lockdown Slovakia witnessed during the second pandemic wave.

The cabinet approved several changes to the Covid automat alert system at its August 10 evening session, effective from next Monday, August 16. One of the biggest ones is that the measures will not be adopted on a national level. Instead, every district will follow different measures, based on the tier they are currently in.

Another big change relates to the vaccination rate among people aged 50 and over. This means that if more than 65 percent of people aged 50+ are vaccinated in a respective district, it will graduate to a better tier, and thus less strict measures will apply. If the vaccination rate of people aged 50+ is more than 75 percent, the district may improve by two tiers in the Covid automat.

Moreover, the owners of facilities and the organisers of mass events will be able to choose from different sets of entry requirements. They can choose to let only fully vaccinated people in; or require proof of either vaccination, a negative Covid test result or proof of recovery from the disease; or let everybody in, without requiring a negative test or proof of vaccination. The entry regime will set limits for the number of people allowed to enter the premises or attend events.

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Schools should follow their own traffic light system. The Education Ministry will introduce the respective measures on August 17.

Here are some answers to questions concerning the new alert system.

Municipalities welcome the changes

Some representatives of municipalities appreciated the fact that the new Covid automat follows the regional principle and takes the vaccination rate among older people into account. This includes Bratislava Mayor Matúš Vallo.

Thanks to the changes, it is possible that the city and its districts will not have to switch to the black tier, as the vaccination rate in the capital is higher than 70 percent.

“Bratislava is the most vaccinated city in Slovakia, among seniors too, and there is no risk that it will be switched to the black tier, which would mean a complete closure of facilities,” Vallo wrote on Facebook. To reward vaccinated people and motivate people who have not been inoculated yet, he is giving people in the city a chance to win an annual public transport ticket worth €199.

The Union of Towns in Slovakia (ÚMS) also welcomed the changes to the Covid automat. As its chair and Trenčín Mayor Richard Rybníček explained, the previous measures passed on the national level led to some paradoxes when districts with a good epidemiological situation had to close some facilities because of the worsening situation in other districts, as reported by the TASR newswire.

Meanwhile, the Slovak Association of Hotels and Restaurants wants the new Covid automat to become effective on September 1, rather than August 16. One of the reasons is that operators of facilities lack information on how to choose the entry regime, and tourists who have already paid for their stay also need to be informed about the new conditions.

Moreover, the IT support necessary for checking the digital Covid passes is also missing, said its chair Marek Harbuľák.

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Coronavirus and vaccination news

  • 68 out of 5,739 PCR tests completed on August 10 were positive, and so were 22 out of 5,185 new antigen tests. One more person died of Covid.
  • 16.4 percent of respondents would not recommend their friends to get vaccinated against Covid, the July edition of “How are you, Slovakia?” survey suggests.
  • During the upcoming weekend, the Trnava Self-Governing Region will administer the vaccine against Covid only on Saturday (August 14). There will be three vaccination points at shopping centres and a large-capacity centre in Piešťany.

Picture of the Day

The reconstruction of the walls of the Turňa Castle near Košice, managed by the Castrum Thorna association, is continuing throughout the summer. Four unemployed people are helping with the project, which has also received a subsidy from the Culture Ministry.

Feature story for today

It's hard to shake the mystical imagery of the alpine meadows, waterfalls, deep blue lakes bordered by the jagged peaks spanning the High Tatras, writes Mins Lukas Savela, a team member at 10Adventures Tours. Despite holding the title as the smallest alpine range on Earth, it remains one of his favourite hiking destinations on the continent. Read his blog summing up his three-day hike in the mountains.

Blog: Epic hikes in the High Tatras Read more 

In other news

  • The trial of ex-special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik, who faces corruption-related and other charges, continued on August 11, with former general prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár and former police officer Norbert Paksi taking the witness stand. While the former’s testimony was in Kováčik’s favour, the latter confirmed some claims made by Ľudovít Makó during his mid-July testimony, the Denník N daily reported. The court proceeding will continue on Thursday and Friday.
  • The trial with convicted mobster Marian Kočner, who faces charges related to the secret instruction notes he allegedly sent from prison, continued on August 11. The notes and other evidence were read aloud. An expert opinion confirmed that the notes provided by former journalist-turned-spy Peter Tóth were written by Kočner. The trial was adjourned until October.
  • The cabinet allocated €5.4 million and the deployment of up to 1,300 soldiers a day for the mid-September visit of Pope Francis.
  • The Health Ministry introduced its health care reform that will now be submitted for interdepartmental review. It contains a plan to increase the number of general practitioners, the reform of hospitals and the regulation of health insurers’ profit.
  • Bratislava Region has the highest share of employees with a university degree – nearly 68 percent of all people working in the region. On the other hand, the share of employees with at least a bachelor's degree is the lowest in the remaining three regions in western Slovakia (Trenčín, Trnava and Nitra) at about 45 percent, according to the website.
  • Bauer Media, the owner of the private Radio Expres, which tops the ranking of radio stations with the most listenership, reportedly agreed on purchasing two more private radio stations, Jemné and Europa 2, whose owner is close to the J&T financial group. The transaction, whose value has not been revealed yet, needs to be approved by the licensing council first. (

More on today:

Slovakia grew the most among its fellow EU members – in beer production Read more 

Filming of American TV series closes highway to Poland Read more 

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