Ministry proposes to start reopening Slovakia for the vaccinated and recovered shortly before Christmas

The Health Ministry came up with three phases, one of which involves a longer lockdown.

Lockdown in BratislavaLockdown in Bratislava (Source: SME)

Slovakia may start gradually opening up for people who are either fully vaccinated against Covid or who have recovered from the disease within the past 180 days shortly before Christmas.

This stems from a plan presented by Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO nominee) on December 6.

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The proposal still needs to be discussed at the coalition council, scheduled to meet on Monday evening, and then be adopted by the cabinet at its next session on December 8.

The three phases

The first phase, set to last until December 16, includes a prolongation of the lockdown that came into force on November 25 and was set to last two weeks (i.e. until Thursday, December 9).

However, since the situation remains quite serious and the monitored data does not indicate much improvement yet, the ministry together with experts recommends prolonging the valid measures. The measures currently in place should not be toughened up – instead, the controls should be intensified. This includes more intensive checks of whether the rules are being observed on trains or buses, Lengvarský stressed.

Originally, the group of experts who serve as an advisory body to the Health Ministry proposed to introduce a new regime for trains and long-distance buses in which passengers are asked to show either a confirmation of vaccination, recovery from Covid or negative test result (OTP in Slovak) before boarding. It is not clear for now whether it will be part of the latest package of measures.

Experts advising the health minister propose another week of lockdown and one new measure Read more 

Lengvarský has also called on people to reduce mobility, avoid meeting their friends or family unless necessary, and visit only essential shops. According to the official figures, mobility has decreased, but not as much as at the beginning of the year, when there was another lockdown in Slovakia.

In the second phase, set to last from December 17 to 24, the ministry proposes to ease some measures for people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid and those who have recovered from Covid within the past 180 days. This includes opening:

  • both essential and non-essential shops, including those in shopping centres (with a limit of one person per 15 square metres);
  • body care services, including hairdressers, barbers, and nail salons (with a limit of one person per 25 square metres);
  • church services (no more than 30 people or one person per 25 square metres).

Others will be able to visit essential shops only. Another change is that household goods and footwear will no longer be listed as essential shops. Essential shops should stay open until 22:00, with a limit of one person per 25 square metres.

In the third phase, set to last from December 25 to January 9, the following premises should be reopened for the vaccinated or those who have recovered from Covid:

  • hotels, until 75 percent of their capacity is filled (visitors will be required to show a negative test result as well – PCR no older than 72 hours, antigen no older than 48 hours). Restaurants in hotels should stay closed (food delivered only through a window or taken to the room as part of the room service), as well as common areas;
  • ski lifts;
  • fitness centres (six people or one person per 25 square metres);
  • church services (no more than 30 people or one person per 25 square metres).

Essential shops should follow the same rules as during the second phase. However, non-essential shops and body care services in this phase should stay closed for everybody.

Lockdown only preventing new cases, number of hospitalisations rises Read more 

Coalition council to discuss measures

The proposal is now set to be discussed by the coalition council during its meeting on the evening of December 6.

Yet, it was already clear during the day that Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) will propose the measures to be eased. It wants, for example, to extend the list of essential shops and services, discuss the financial compensation for businesses affected by the lockdown, and the OTP regime (Slovak abbreviation for the vaccinated-recovered-tested regime) in public transport, the TASR newswire reported.

Sme Rodina did not want to comment on the potential prolongation of the lockdown, even though its chair Boris Kollár said earlier that he would do so. For now, the party said that it will present its opinion only at the coalition council.

Read more about coronavirus developments in Slovakia:

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