News digest: New powers for hygienists and Covid pass checks at workplaces

Some experts consider coalition-endorsed measures weak. Daily caseload breaks the pandemic’s record. University students protest against planned reform.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Wednesday, November 10, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.

Cabinet approves new measures

Under the current rules, employers cannot find out whether their employees have been vaccinated against Covid unless they voluntarily disclose this information.

This may now change. The cabinet approved at its November 10 session that employers will be entitled to check their staff’s Covid pass, i.e. the confirmation of being vaccinated against Covid, recovering from the disease or having a negative test result, before this person enter the workplace.

A similar right will be given to the owners of premises, like restaurants or even shops. If people refuse to show the confirmations and prove their identity, they might be banned from entering the premises or attending a mass event, the proposal reads.

Yet, the government has not specified which tiers will apply this measure. The tiers in which this rule will be applied should be specified by the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ).

At the same time, the cabinet agreed on more powers for hygienists, who will even be able to close certain premises due to a bad Covid situation, and police officers to hand out higher fines. The sum provided as pandemic sickness benefit should be the same as that of the ordinary sickness benefit.

All these changes still need to be approved by the parliament. The cabinet has proposed the discussion in a fast-track proceeding.

The government has yet to say when they are planning to relax measures for the vaccinated in the black tier districts. More details are to be presented in the coming days.

Earlier, some experts commented on the proposals endorsed by the coalition council on Monday evening. While they welcomed some provisions, they considered others to be weak and not strict enough to avert current developments.

Meanwhile, President Zuzana Čaputová commented on the current situation as well, expressing hope that the government will “‌adopt bold and ambitious measures that will protect people from the pandemic.” She also thanked the people working in health care.

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More on coronavirus and vaccination

  • 7,055 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 24,791 PCR tests performed on November 9, which has been an absolute record in daily caseload since the pandemic broke out in March 2020. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 2,478. Fifty-three more deaths were reported on Tuesday. The vaccination rate is at 45.95 percent, 2,527,041 people having received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • As many as 52 districts will be in the black tier, the worst of the Covid automat alert system, from next Monday. There will be 19 districts in the dark red tier, and eight in the red tier.
  • The hospital in Prešov, eastern Slovakia, had to move two patients infected with Covid to other hospitals due to the lack of beds equipped with mechanical ventilation. All 13 patients on the beds equipped with ventilation who are currently hospitalised in Prešov are unvaccinated.
  • Altogether 213,839 people are currently registered in a virtual waiting room, waiting for the third Covid vaccine dose. More than 120,000 people have received the booster shot so far, the National Health Information Centre (NCZI) announced.
  • Slovakia donated 60,700 coronavirus vaccines by Moderna to Armenia.
  • The Finance Ministry prolonged the deadline to apply for the bonus for those who motivated others to get vaccinated against Covid until November 18. The department wants to meet the demands of people who for some reason may miss the original deadline (November 15).
  • 89 percent of schoolchildren are currently attending in-person education, and 11 percent switched to remote education. The data was provided by 90 percent of schools.

Picture of the day

University students attended a protest march against the planned reform of universities, which took place on November 10 in downtown Bratislava.

Feature story for today

After the success of her illustrations as the runner up, Spanish illustrator Elena Odriozola has won the 2021 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB) Grand Prix for her illustrations from the book Mixed Feelings. This innovative children’s book is an illustrated introduction to philosophy, created in collaboration with her longtime friend and publishing partner Gustavo Puerto Leisse. In an interview, she speaks about her work, children’s books, and her experience with Bratislava.

Every time I read a book, I imagine how to illustrate it Read more 

In other news

  • President Zuzana Čaputová commented on the referendum questions she received from the MPs of the opposition Smer party, criticising the party for giving her ultimatums, adding that the questions she received conditioned one another, which is not allowed by the currently valid law. “‌I will announce any referendum, even with a question I personally disagree with, but it cannot be at odds with the Constitution,” she stressed. “‌The questions cannot condition one another.”
  • The delegation of MEPs led by Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová recently visited several municipalities in eastern Slovakia where Roma live, to check whether they are using European funds to improve local conditions. They found poor hygienic and living conditions.
  • MPs have postponed the voting on the reform of national parks to the next parliamentary session, due to start on November 23. The reason is that they would probably not have had enough votes to push through the reform.
  • The voting on changes to abortion laws will take place tomorrow at 17:00. Originally, it was supposed to be held today. Recently, several non-governmental organisations advocating human, women's and reproductive rights called on lawmakers to reject not only the amendment submitted by ultraconservative MP Anna Záborská of OĽaNO, but also the amending proposals, which they called chaotic and complicated.
  • 80 percent of people in Slovakia opine that the climate change impacts their everyday life. At the same time, 60 percent say that Slovakia will probably fail to resolutely reduce carbon emissions by 2050, as promised in the Paris Agreement, according to a recent poll of the European Central Bank.
  • Industrial production fell by 4.9 percent year-on-year in September, and by 1.7 percent month-on-month after seasonal adjustment. As for the industries that contributed the most to the overall decrease in production, the most significant decrease was recorded in the manufacture of transport equipment by 31.3 percent, the Statistics Office reported. Observers pointed to the fact that it was the biggest production halt since last summer, mostly due to the lack of semiconductors, and the very first annual drop reported since January 2021.
  • Construction output decreased by 4.7 percent y-o-y in September, and is still lagging behind the pre-pandemic level by almost 23.4 percent. After seasonal adjustment, construction output was 3.8 percent lower than in August 2021, according to the Statistics Office.

More on today:

Nearly one third of households in Slovakia did not spend on hobbies and pastimes Read more 

Groceries will be 10 to 20 percent more expensive, food producers announce Read more 

Contraception in polluted Slovak rivers endangers fish populations Read more 

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