News digest: Omicron variant changes quarantine rules and flight schedule

New regime starts for companies and after-school activities. The Largest in Law ranking is out.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Monday, November 29, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.

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Situation in Slovakia affected by lockdown and Omicron

Starting today, companies are required to apply a new entry regime for their staff members. Those who have not been fully vaccinated against Covid or have not recovered from the disease within the last 180 days need to be tested before entering the workplace.

If they refuse, employers have the right to send them home.

For now, these rules will be applied until the end of the year, and the state promises to reimburse all the costs linked with the testing.

After-school activities, including art schools, free-time centres and language schools, are also halted. Schools can remain open, following stricter rules like a mask mandate even for the youngest primary school pupils. For now, only individual classrooms with positive Covid cases should be closed.

Yet, chief hygienist Ján Mikas called on all 36 regional branches of the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) to not hesitate and completely close schools if the situation is alarming, and some have already done so.

Meanwhile, the Sme daily reported that the new lockdown measures seem to have impacted the interest of people to get vaccinated against Covid. The number of registrations for the first vaccine shot plummeted at the beginning of last week, after Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO nominee) announced that he would propose a curfew affecting both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.

More changes are expected to come into force this week. Responding to the threat of the new Omicron variant, the ÚVZ changed the rules for incomers from 10 countries who cross Slovakia’s borders. Starting on December 1, those who have been in Botswana, Eswatini, Hong Kong, Israel, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Zimbabwe in the past 14 days prior to coming to Slovakia will have to self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether they are vaccinated against Covid or not.

If they want to end self-isolation sooner, they will have to receive two negative PCR test results.

Those who came from these countries before December 1 should contact the ÚVZ via a special email address. About 120 people have done so as of Monday noon.

Meanwhile, the Transport Ministry suspended civilian flights to and from seven African countries, at least until mid-December.

The ÚVZ informed the public that it has not revealed the new variant in the sequenced samples yet, but some experts suggest it may already be present in Slovakia given the open borders.


For a deeper insight into current affairs, check out our Last Week in Slovakia, published earlier today. You can sign up for the newsletter here.


More coronavirus and vaccination developments

  • 5,054 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 13,582 PCR tests performed on November 28. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 3,219 people. Sixty-seven more deaths were reported on Sunday. The vaccination rate is 47.85 percent; 2,631,895 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • Three former Slovak presidents – Rudolf Schuster, Ivan Gašparovič and Andrej Kiska – have called on people to get vaccinated against Covid, saying it's a successful way to fight the pandemic. A similar statement has been issued by a number of personalities from the political and cultural spheres, including two former prime ministers, Mikuláš Dzurinda and Iveta Radičová.
  • Six out of 10 people opine that those vaccinated against Covid should have certain benefits, according to a poll carried out by the AKO agency for the private broadcaster TV JOJ between November 8 and 16 on 1,000 respondents. This idea is supported by 86 percent of the voters of the coalition parties Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) and Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), while mostly the voters of the far-right Republika movement (founded by the renegades of the People’s Party Our Slovakia led by Marian Kotleba) and opposition party Smer were against it.
  • Slovakia currently has 1.5 million doses of Covid vaccines at its disposal, the Health Ministry reported, adding it will adjust further potential purchases to the future developments.
  • Even though the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the Covid vaccine by Pfizer for younger kids last week, in Slovakia the vaccination of this age group will not start until the beginning of 2022, the Health Ministry expects.
  • Covid-19 contributed to excessive deaths in Slovakia in October; it was the fourth most frequent cause of death. Total excess mortality represented 16 percent last month and occurred mostly in the age group 65-74 years, according to the Statistics Office.
  • The Louis Pasteur University Hospital in Košice has warned against the serious threat of the anti-parasitic medication ivermectin on people’s health. It had to deal with two patients intoxicated with ivermectin during the past month: one patient was in a life-threatening condition with impaired consciousness, and the other had serious neurological symptoms.

Travel info

Every traveller entering the United Kingdom as of Tuesday, November 30 is required to take a PCR test on the second day after their arrival and stay in self-isolation until they receive a negative test result. This includes vaccinated incomers.


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Picture of the day

Slovak skier Petra Vlhová placed second in the women's World Cup slalom ski race held on Sunday, November 28, 2021, in Killington. She was defeated by US skier Mikaela Shiffrin. Vlhová will skip the following three World Cup races and will compete again on December 21 in Courchevel, France.


Largest in law

The Slovak Spectator published its ranking of the largest law firms in Slovakia today. For more than 10 years, in cooperation with the Finstat company, we have provided this comprehensive picture of law services in Slovakia. Several new categories were added to this survey. Check out the results in the Largest in Law main categories here:

Which are the largest law firms in Slovakia? Read more 

You can read articles with the results for specific categories: M&A, Banking & Finance, Real Estate & Development, Intellectual property, Litigation & Arbitration, Labour law, Restructuring & Insolvency, Regulation, Competition law and Commercial law.


In other news

  • None of the parliamentary parties managed to significantly increase their popularity among voters in the last month. A more significant increase in voter support was recorded with the non-parliamentary party Republika, founded by the People’s Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) renegades, as stems from the recent Focus poll carried out for the private broadcaster TV Markíza.
  • Slovakia belongs to the worst EU countries in the uptake of artificial intelligence technologies, according to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). It shares the spot with Estonia (both with 15 percent). The only country with a worse result is Ireland (at 14 percent).
  • Trust in the Slovak economy rose slightly in November but remains below the long-term average. The seasonally adjusted economic sentiment indicator went up by 2.8 points to 99.8 points, which is approximately the same level as before the pandemic, the Statistics Office reported.
  • The bus carrier Arriva Trnava will limit selected bus lines around Hlohovec and Piešťany from Monday, November 29, due to the high number of drivers infected with Covid-19 and employees in self-isolation, according to the Trnava Self-Government Region’s office.
  • The financial sector is handling the pandemic well for now, and in many aspects is even stronger than it was before, as stems from the recent Financial Stability Report published by the National Bank of Slovakia. The sector is able to continue financing the economy and, thanks to the responsibility of banks, has come out of the crisis stronger.
  • Several ski resorts in the High Tatras, including those in Štrbské Pleso, started covering their slopes with artificial snow this week, despite the lockdown and curfew.

    One last note: A global generosity movement titled Giving Tuesday takes place tomorrow. Do not forget to support your favourite project – the list of some Slovak programmes can be found here.


More on Spectator.sk:

Why prefer vaccines to drugs? The Covid jab protects better and it is cheaper Read more 

Brrr! Orava is full of winter-swimming spots Read more 

The water of the Danube connects me to my homeland, says Bulgarian painter living 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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