Employers can demand to see proof of Covid vaccination from their employees and impose a regime that allows only the vaccinated and those who have recently recovered from Covid to enter the workplace.
Everyone else will need to get regularly tested under such a regime. Businesses who decide to follow these rules will need to provide and pay for regular tests for their unvaccinated employees.
MPs approved this set of measures after the cabinet of Eduard Heger put it forward earlier this week to mitigate the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Slovakia. The number of infected people and hospitals admissions have been on a steady rise over the past weeks. The cabinet hopes the measures will motivate more people to get the Covid jab in Slovakia, which has one of the least-vaccinated populations in the EU; around 46 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Experts advising the government have, however, called for stricter measures. They are sceptical about how much the law that has been passed can help raise the vaccination rate in the country.
If the situation does not improve fast enough, discussions about the measures that have not been taken so far will continue, experts from the consilium announced, as reported by the Sme daily.
They say the decisive factor now is the immediate introduction of the passed measures, adding that their effectiveness needs to be monitored and quick changes need to be made in case they do not prove to be effective enough.
Testing at work
Employers who decide to impose the vaccinated-tested-recently recovered regime (known under the acronym OTP in Slovakia) will need to secure free testing for their employees.
If employees refuse to get tested, they will be viewed as having an obstacle to work on the side of the employee. The government expects some may decide to take paid leave, but the employer may also let them stay at home on unpaid leave. The latter will automatically apply to police and customs officers and soldiers.
These changes are valid until May 1, 2022, the newly passed law states.
The cabinet also agreed on changing the pandemic sick leave benefit (known as PN in Slovak). Starting on December 1, it will amount to the same sum as the ordinary sick leave benefit, that is 25 percent of daily wages as opposed to the pandemic sick leave of 55 percent that applies now.
Changes for restaurants and other public venues
Covid passes should also be required when entering certain premises, like restaurants or shops. The owners will be entitled to check the identity of the person too.
People who refuse to show any of the confirmations or prove their identity will not be allowed to enter premises or attend a mass event.
Police officers can demand to see people's Green Passes as well.
Public health officials will also have new competencies. They can close the premises of restaurants or other facilities if the Covid situation is critical and request assistance from police officers.
Fines for offensive speech
If a person is offensive towards a public health official, forges a Covid pass or threatens the provision of health care, they could be fined up to €1,000. The maximum fine for a misdemeanour on the spot is €500.
For offences committed during a state of emergency or national emergency, the fine can be as high as €1,500, and an on-the-spot fine as high as €700.