Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Wednesday, October 20, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.
Frozen salaries instead of an applause
During the previous pandemic waves, those fighting against the Covid pandemic on the frontline were applauded and even received special bonuses from the state, but the situation is quite different now.
Many frontline workers, such as regional hygienists, employees in nursing homes, teachers and soldiers, will have their salaries frozen, just like other public administration employees. The reason is the high budget deficit, the Sme daily reported.
This does not improve the current situation much, since many of these professions are currently having problems recruiting new employees.
Doctors and nurses are in a different position, and their salaries are expected to rise, but this may not be enough, according to Peter Visolajský of the Medical Trade Unions Organisation.
More coronavirus and vaccination developments
- 3,480 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 16,199 PCR tests performed on October 19, which is the daily caseload since early March 2021. The number of people in hospitals has dropped to 1,040. Eight more deaths were reported on Tuesday. The vaccination rate is 45.20 percent; 2,486,032 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
- Altogether 10 districts will switch to the black tier of the Covid automat alert system from next Monday, October 25, namely Bardejov, Čadca, Kysucké Nové Mesto, Levoča, Michalovce, Sabinov, Stará Ľubovňa, Stropkov, Svidník and Tvrdošín. Another 30 districts will be in the dark red tier, 27 in the red tier, and 12 in the orange tier.
- Travelling on the All Saints’ Day (November 1), which is a national holiday in Slovakia, will not be restricted, said Health Minister Vladimír Legvarský (OĽaNO nominee). He also stressed the government is not considering another round of nationwide testing.
- The group of experts who serve as an advisory body to the Health Ministry will meet tomorrow (October 21) to discuss potential changes to the Covid automat. One matter to be discussed is whether the fully vaccinated will receive more benefits.
- Fully vaccinated people, people who have recovered from Covid and those with a negative Covid test result will be able to visit inmates in prisons from next Monday. This also includes priests and other people visiting severely ill or dying inmates.
- The public's willingness to adhere to the anti-pandemic measures has been the lowest since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, as stems from the regular “How are you, Slovakia?” survey. Respondents who do not plan to get vaccinated against Covid have declared the lowest willingness to respect the measures during the entire monitored period.
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Picture of the day
President Zuzana Čaputová donated a two-metre traditional beehive she received as a gift from the Slovenian Embassy in Slovakia to the students of Prešov University, who study to become future beekeepers.
Feature story for today
Fear and anger are two of the dominant emotions that a large section of Slovak society displayed in reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, President Zuzana Čaputová said in her “state of the republic” address to parliament at the end of September. She was referring to the current climate in Slovak society where extremist rhetoric and the use of radical narratives are becoming a normal way of speaking for some politicians – and not just those at the extreme end of the political spectrum.
In other news
- Although MP Tomáš Taraba has been widely criticised for exposing President Zuzana Čaputová’s underage daughter to online mockery, it may not be enough to launch prosecution against him. The Sme daily asked lawyers for their opinions on this case.
- Slovakia's general government deficit dropped to 5.5 percent of GDP, or €5.062 billion. The public debt amounted to 59.74 percent of GDP, or €55.010 billion.
- The registered unemployment rate, calculated from the number of jobseekers ready to take job immediately, dropped to 7.09 percent in September, which is the lowest level since May 2020, said Labour Minister Milan Krajniak (Sme Rodina).
- The cabinet approved a draft that changes the extent of salary deductions when carrying out distraint proceedings, increasing it from 100 percent of the subsistence minimum to 140 percent. The change, expected to come into force on January 1, 2022, has been criticised by the Slovak Chamber of Distrainors, who said that the debtors will end up paying more if interest is also counted. (TASR)
- The parliament passed the draft amendment to the law on the organisation of the working time in transport, with the aim to unite the rules for truck drivers within the EU; it will become effective in February 2022. The main aim is to implement a European directive from July 2020 that should secure better working conditions for truck drivers, including setting the length of drives and the minimum time for breaks and rest.
- The match between Spartak Trnava and Slovan Bratislava, interrupted by hooligans on Sunday, ended with a loss by default for Trnava, as the Union of League Clubs (ÚKL) decided. This means that Slovan now has a three-point lead.
One last note: The Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMÚ) has issued a warning against strong wind for the next few days, starting today at 18:00. This includes most districts of Žilina Region, and the districts of Banská Bystrica, Brezno and Poprad. Wind speeds could reach 110-135 kilometres per hour, or even more.
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