TODAY IN SLOVAKIA

News digest: Schools should not be closed across the board

Schoolchildren won't need a negative test result. Lottery for vaccinated people reveals problems. GDP growth fell behind expectations.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Your Today in Slovakia daily news digest on Tuesday, August 17, 2021, is ready. Get an overview of the most important news of the day in a less than five-minute read.

No tests required from schoolchildren

Schoolchildren coming to schools from September will not need a negative test result, said Education Minister Branislav Gröhling (SaS) on Tuesday, when presenting basic rules for the upcoming school year.

Parents interested in their children being tested can turn to the schools, which will then give them a kit of 25 rapid tests. Schoolchildren will not be required to wear a FFP2 or KN95 respirators; masks will be enough.

“How the school year will turn out and whether children will be safe will depend on how we all approach the measures,” paediatrician Elena Prokopová told the press.

All schools should open for in-person classes on September 2. Unlike the previous school year, they should not close across-the-board. Instead, only individual classrooms that will report a certain number of positive cases will close, and pupils will switch to remote education, Gröhling explained.

Moreover, the new alert system known as the Covid automat in Slovakia counts with in-person education for certain grades in all five tiers, including the black one, which has the strictest measures, the minister stressed.

The Slovak Spectator will report on further details in the coming days.


More coronavirus and vaccination news

  • 74 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 7,257 PCR tests performed on August 16. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 72 people. The vaccination rate is at 42.25 percent; 2,323,516 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • Before introducing a third booster Covid vaccine shot, Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO nominee) wants to wait for the recommendation of manufacturers. One potential scenario counts with the combination of vaccines from different manufacturers.
  • The very first drawing in the lottery for vaccinated people on Sunday, August 15, exposed several flaws and gaps in the rules, such as potential discrimination against people watching the broadcast online and those with disabilities. Meanwhile, five people who won €10,000 each and 20 who won €1,000 each were picked in the Monday drawing.
  • The opposition party Smer turned to the Constitutional Court, questioning the constitutionality of the amendment that will allow advantages for vaccinated people, passed in mid-July. In the party's opinion, the legislation creates two groups of people and discriminates against those who are not vaccinated.
  • The National Health Information Centre (NCZI) submitted a criminal complaint in relation to the recent information leak. Earlier this week, the IT company Nethemba reported some errors discovered in the systems run by NCZI, including the eHranica form.
  • The Transport Ministry has launched the third stage of financial assistance for the tourism and gastronomy sector, with the money covering April and May 2021.

Travel information

People coming to Montenegro should have all confirmations or negative tests required by the local authorities in paper form, the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry reported. Those coming from other than a safe country need to submit a negative test result (PCR: no older than 72 hours; antigen: no older than 48 hours), or a confirmation of vaccination or of recovery from Covid. Currently, Slovakia is considered safe.


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GDP growth fell behind expectations

Even though Slovak economic growth accelerated to an almost record 10 percent year-on-year during the second quarter of 2021, it was lower than expected. The main features of the April-June period were the opening of the economy in mid-April after anti-pandemic measures were lifted, and the shortage of semiconductors, which especially impacted the automotive industry.

The gross domestic product (GDP) at constant prices grew by 9.6 percent y-o-y in the second quarter of 2021. After an adjustment for seasonal effects, GDP increased by 10.2 percent y-o-y and by 2 percent q-o-q. At current prices, Q2 GDP in Slovakia amounted to almost €24 billion, up 11.8 percent y-o-y. GDP thus almost achieved the pre-pandemic level of 2019, the Statistics Office reported.

“The reason for the economic growth was not only foreign demand, but also domestic demand,” Eva Sadovská, analyst with Wood & Company, stated in her memo. “Consumer as well as investment demand was apparent.”


Picture of the day

The pictures by Dutch multi-media photojournalist Kadir van Lohuizen are on display in Bratislava. This year, he presided over the jury of the Slovak Press Photo competition.


Feature story for today

A Roman military camp described by experts as a “small Rome” has become Bratislava’s eighth UNESCO World Heritage Site.​ ​The Gerulata site in the Rusovce borough of the capital was officially included on the UN organisation’s list of globally significant sites at the end of July.

Roman military camp in Bratislava makes UNESCO list Read more 

In other news

  • Storms that hit Slovakia yesterday caused considerable damages in, for example, Banská Bystrica and Košice, and even claimed one life in a summer camp.
  • Given the stabilisation of forest fires in Greece, the deployment of foreign firefighting teams in the country are no longer necessary, Slovak Interior Minister Roman Mikulec (OĽaNO) wrote on Facebook. The departure of the Slovak team is scheduled for today.
  • Former head of the Interior Ministry’s inspection service, Adrián Szabó, detained in early June for corruption-related charges, signed a plea bargain with the Special Prosecutor’s Office today, with the prosecutor proposing a fine at €25,000, a three-year probation, a seizure of his TV and two mobile phones, and a seven-year ban for serving in a public post; but the plea still needs to be approved by the court. At the same time, Szabó has been released from custody.
  • Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair announced two new routes from Bratislava in the upcoming winter season: to Copenhagen (Denmark) and Lanzarote (Canary Island).
  • Altogether 923 retail companies have closed their business in Slovakia since the beginning of 2020, according to data of the Dun&Bradstreet company. Their situation was mostly complicated by the pandemic measures that closed non-essential shops.
  • Slovak ballet dancers from the In Ballet Class studio won gold in the solo and bronze in the quartets at the 2021 Dance World Cup, the Culture Ministry reported on its website.

More on Spectator.sk today:

The truth about climate change Read more 

Pope’s arrival to be accompanied by protest Read more 

Newly-opened lookout tower one of the tallest in Slovakia Read more 

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

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