News digest: Pope Francis goes east, makes a point of visiting the Roma

Shops will close tomorrow due to a national holiday. New Bratislava bus station opens by the end of September.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. The Tuesday, September 14 edition of Today in Slovakia is ready with the main news of the day in less than five minutes. We wish you a pleasant read. Please note that tomorrow is a national holiday and the next edition of the news digest will be published on Thursday evening. The Spectator team will continue covering the Pope's visit to Slovakia on Wednesday.

Eastern Slovakia welcomes Pope Francis

Pope Francis left Bratislava in the morning to visit Prešov and Košice, the two biggest towns in eastern Slovakia.

People had been gathering in Prešov from about midnight to catch the best places for events with Pope Francis. During his visit, Pope Francis served the Byzantine Rite liturgy or the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. He is the first pope in history to serve this liturgy in Slovakia.

Some 30,000 people reportedly attended the mass originally planned with a capacity of 50,000. During his sermon, Pope Francis mused on the importance of the cross for Christians. He noted that Christians should not reduce the cross to a mere object of their religious devotion, let alone a political symbol or a symbol of social importance.

In the afternoon, he moved to the segregated Roma neighborhood Lunik IX in Košice, where he met with the Roma community.

The Pope said the Roma have too often been the subject of prejudice and pejorative stereotypes. "This has made all of us poorer - poorer in humanity," the Pope said.

He also stressed that putting people in ghettos solves nothing and called for integration. He thanked everyone who participated in the work of integration.

He concluded his visit in Košice by meeting young people at Stadium Lokomotíva in Košice.

Yesterday evening, it transpired that the former archbishop of Trnava, Róbert Bezák, who was removed from office under controversial circumstances nine years ago, met privately with the Pope in Bratislava. The meeting is significant within the context of Bezák's dismissal and the sympathies that Pope Francis has expressed for him recently.

On Sunday, during his sermon in the chapel of the Evangelical Brethren Church in Bratislava, Bezák said that the pope might do something that will not sit well with many. The Sme daily obtained information that the pope might invite him to the lectern during the holy mass on Wednesday in Šaštín, the highlight of his visit.

Coronavirus and vaccination development

  • 474 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 7,651 PCR tests performed on Monday. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 250 people. The vaccination rate is at 43.78 percent, 2,407,896 people having received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • Half of the clients in the Kosmatec specialised facility for seniors with mental disease and dementia in Ubľa in eastern Slovakia were diagnosed with Covid-19. Six members of staff are also positive. Since September 3, when the first positive case was detected, two residents have died. They do not know origin of the infection, all residents and staff having been vaccinated against Covid.

Travel info

  • The Czech Republic places Slovakia among orange countries with a medium risk of infection with Covid-19. Travellers are obliged to fill in a locator form and taking Covid test before entering Czechia or at least five days after arriving. The exception from testing applies to vaccinated people and people who recovered from the disease.
  • Spain places eastern Slovakia and Bratislava Region among places with a high risk of infection. Travellers from these regions are obliged to hold either a negative test or vaccination certificate or confirmation on recovering from Covid when arriving to Spain.

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In other news

  • The Nivy Compound along with the new Mlynské Nivy bus station will open on September 30 in Bratislava. All shops, services and gastro zone will also open.
  • 772 nurses and midwives left the healthcare system between the beginning of January 2021 and September 3. This is 20 percent more than in the same period last year, according to the Slovak Chamber of Nurses and Midwives.
  • Slovakia will offer Afghanistan €500,000 in humanitarian aid via the UN, confirmed state secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ingrid Brocková.
  • Prices continued to grow in August. Y-o-y inflation has reached 3.8 percent, the highest value in almost nine years.
  • The President of the Senate of the Commercial Law Board of the Supreme Court, Lenka Praženková, has resigned as a member of the Judicial Council. The former head of the council cited personal and health reasons.
  • Most shops will close on September 15 due to a national holiday. Shops at gas stations, airports, souvenir shops, pharmacies, restaurants and services will be able to operate. The sales ban does not apply to wholesalers and smaller stores where employees do not serve customers.
  • The Bratislava D4/R7 bypass will start serving drivers at the end of September. "Almost all the remaining sections of the Bratislava D4R7 bypass, including Lužný Bridge, will open to traffic on September 26," Transport Minister Andrej Doležal posted on a social network.
  • The cyclist race Tour de Slovakia starts on September 15 in the historic centre of Košice and will last until Sunday, September 19. 22 teams from more than ten countries will race from eastern to western Slovakia, going through Spišské Podhradie, Dolný Kubín, Považskú Bystricu and Trenčianske Teplice to Trnava. Stars include Peter Sagan, Chris Froom, Jannik Steimle, Christopher Jensen, Giacomo Nizzolo, Maciej Bodnar, Daniel OSS, Erik Baška and Juraj Sagan.

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