News digest: Ministry comes up with a plan to ease measures

Coalition to discuss longer lockdown. Slovakia lags behind in administering booster shots. Nearly half of Slovaks perceive the tax and levy reform negatively.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Read the Monday, December 6, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia to catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes. We wish you a pleasant read.

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Longer lockdown to be followed by lifting measures for the vaccinated and recovered

Since the pandemic situation has not improved much since the lockdown measures and curfew came into force on November 25, with the number of hospitalisations remaining high and mobility falling but not as much as at the beginning of this year, the Health Ministry proposes to prolong the lockdown by another week.

Until December 16, the measures currently in place should not be toughened up; instead, the ministry proposes intensifying controls of how they are being observed. A longer lockdown has also been proposed by the group of experts who serve as an advisory body to the Health Ministry. Their proposal to introduce the new regime for trains and long-distance buses, which would require passengers to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test before boarding has not been mentioned among the measures introduced on Monday.

Subsequently, some measures may be eased during the week before Christmas (i.e. between December 17 and 24), at least for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid and those who have recovered within the past 180 days. They should be allowed to visit non-essential shops and body care services (like hairdressers or barbers), and also attend church services.

Between December 25 and January 9, hotels, ski lifts and fitness centres should reopen for those who have been vaccinated and have recovered from Covid, even though non-essential shops and body care services are to be shut for everybody.

The proposal still needs to be approved by the coalition and then the cabinet at its next session.

The coalition council is meeting today in the evening. Even though OĽaNO chair Igor Matovič said he will support the changes, some coalition partners are calling for an immediate easing of measures for the vaccinated. This includes Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), which wants to open non-essential shops for the vaccinated, and not only before Christmas.

Veronika Remišová, chair of Za Ľudí, is also asking that measures be eased for the vaccinated. As she said, a lockdown is not a solution and it does not work.

Another coalition party, Sme Rodina, wants eased measures not only for those who are vaccinated and who have recovered but also for those who test negative for Covid.

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

  • 3,020 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 7,971 PCR tests performed on December 5. The number of people in hospitals is 3,419, and 74 more deaths were reported on Sunday. The vaccination rate is at 48.44 percent; 2,664,361 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) said that mandatory vaccination for people aged 60 and older is the way out of the pandemic. He is negotiating with the coalition on this topic, but there is no agreement yet, he said.
  • The vaccination of children aged 5-11 years might begin sooner than expected. Originally, it was expected to be launched only in 2022, but Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO) said that it will be possible to launch it already in December.
  • Slovakia lags behind in administering booster shots. While 7.8 percent of people in Slovakia have received it so far, the EU average is at 12 percent. In Hungary, nearly 28 percent have been vaccinated with the booster shot, and in Austria, it is nearly 26 percent. (Denník N)
  • The parents of children whose schools or kindergartens have been closed by the regional public health officials are entitled to the pandemic benefit for the care of a family member (OČR in Slovak) under unchanged conditions, the state-run social insurer Sociálna Poisťovňa reported.
  • The state will launch the fourth, autumn round of financial assistance for small and medium-sized businesses active in tourism. The conditions will be the same as during the previous three rounds, which means that the applicant has to report a drop in revenues of more than 40 percent compared to the same period a year before, while the final sum will depend on how much they have lost, but will not exceed €200,000 per applicant.

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Picture of the day

Decorated public transport vehicles - a Christmas tram and a Sleigh Bus – are already adding to the festive atmosphere in Bratislava. The tram, which is decorated with Christmas lights and children's drawings, will run daily in the month of December while the Christmas bus will run on the weekends till the end of the winter season.

Feature story for today

With its four car producers, an extensive network of suppliers, and the highest number of manufactured cars per capita, Slovakia remains the global automotive superpower. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent global chip shortage has curbed its performance, the automotive sector’s main challenge now is not to miss the electromobility train.​ Slovakia’s automotive industry is still awaiting greater support from the state in order to gain more electromobility investments.

Automotive industry faces the biggest transformation in its history Read more 

In other news

  • Altogether 30.2 percent of people in Slovakia perceive the reform of taxes and levies introduced by Finance Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) positively or rather positively. On the contrary, 47.4 percent perceive it negatively, as stems from a poll carried out by the Focus agency for the Na Telo political talk show broadcast by TV Markíza in mid-November on 1,005 respondents.
  • Three pairs of InterCity trains are returning to the main domestic railway route, Bratislava – Žilina – Košice, after the pandemic break. Together with the already operating two InterCity trains (to Bratislava and back), there will be four pairs of the fastest train connection in Slovakia operated by the national carrier ZSSK.
  • The operation of selected buses around Nitra and Zlaté Moravce will be suspended from December 6 until further notice. The reason is that the lack of drivers, as their operator, the Arriva Nitra company, reported.
  • Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair will add two new regular flights to Sofia (Bulgaria) and Zagreb (Croatia) to the summer schedule of the Bratislava airport. Both are expected to be launched in late March 2022.
  • Dopravný Podnik Bratislava, which operates public transport in the capital, will receive nearly €2 million from EU funds to reconstruct about 200 shelter roofs at the stops. It will also use its own funds, the subsidy from the government and money received through commercial cooperation.

More on

This Slovak wears her folk costume even in New York City Read more 

Citizenship amendment postponed due to new Hungarian law Read more 

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