News digest: Slovak government eases measures but closes schools

First wave of easing the measures starts on Friday. President Čaputová listed among 100 most powerful women. Districts in western and central Slovakia should prepare for heavy snowfall.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Read the Wednesday, December 8, 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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Slovakia reopens for the vaccinated and recovered

People fully vaccinated against Covid and those who have recovered from the disease within the last 180 days will be able to go Christmas shopping in non-essential shops or go skiing before Christmas.

This stems from the changes approved by the cabinet at its December 8 session. Yet, the lockdown and curfew, introduced on November 25, remain in place and will affect mostly those not vaccinated against Covid. There will be several exceptions from curfew, but the proposal does not mention Christmas visits to families and friends.

The first package of measures comes into force on Friday, December 10, with non-essential shops, churches, ski centres and fitness centres being open for the vaccinated and those who have recently recovered from Covid. The second becomes effective on Saturday, December 25. From this date, hotels and similar accommodation facilities are set to reopen for the vaccinated and those who have recently recovered from Covid. The details are yet to be specified by the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ).

At the same time, the cabinet approved the proposal that grades five through nine of primary schools and all grades of secondary schools will switch to remote learning from next Monday. The youngest children in kindergartens and grades one through four of primary schools will continue with in-person education. The winter holiday starts on December 20.

Moreover, the vaccinated-tested-recovered regime (known as OTP in Slovak) will be applied in InterCity trains, express trains and long-distance buses. The date when this regime will become effective is yet to be specified.

The changes should stay in place until January 9. Yet, if the number of people in hospitals reaches 3,800, the health minister will be able to “pull the handbrake,” which means that strict measures for everybody will be reintroduced.

Meanwhile, Matej Mišík of the Institute for Health Analyses, which runs under the Health Ministry, said that the pandemic situation in Slovakia has slightly improved in some of the monitored parameters. For example, the number of positive PCR and antigen tests has dropped, and so did the number of ambulance interventions for Covid patients. The highest drop has been reported in Prešov Region.

On the other hand, the number of patients on mechanical ventilation has increased compared with last week, and so has the number of Covid deaths, Mišík said.


More coronavirus and vaccination news

  • 9,425 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 26,081 PCR tests performed on December 7. The number of people in hospitals is 3,479 and 91 more deaths were reported on Tuesday. The vaccination rate is at 48.73 percent; 2,680,181 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO) and Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (SaS caucus) were tasked to prepare and submit a legal analysis on the possibilities of introducing mandatory vaccination against Covid and on limitations on the payments through public health insurance for the treatment of Covid patients who voluntarily decide not to get vaccinated, by January 10, 2022.
  • Slovakia will buy two new medications, paxlovid and ronapreve, that will be used to treat Covid patients in hospitals, the cabinet decided. It will cost €55 million including VAT.
  • Even though grades five through nine of primary schools and all grades of secondary schools will switch to distance learning from Monday, the schools in the districts of Nitra, Šaľa and Zlaté Moravce will do so earlier – on Thursday, December 9.
  • The pandemic parental allowance will end in January, as stems from the decision of the cabinet. The reason is that all pre-school facilities are currently open, so the care for a child of pre-school age is secured and nothing prevents parents from searching for a job, as the Labour Ministry explained.

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Picture of the day

In the picture is the closed ski resort in Štrbské Pleso in the High Tatras. Ski resorts will reopen on Friday, December 10, for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid and those who have recovered from the disease within the last 180 days. Until then, people can at least use the tracks for cross-country skiing.


Feature story for today

Katarína Nováková Grubb came to New York City more than 15 years ago as a student as part of the Work and Travel programme, unaware that she had just found her new home and that it would change her life. Her motivation was to improve her English and gain some work experience as well as to get to know the US better. Today, she works for a company involved in stem cell treatment. She is also an active member of the Slovak community, and her energy is an indelible part of the Slovak masses in Manhattan and various other events.

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

In other news

  • Forbes magazine listed Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová among the 100 World’s Most Powerful Women. She ranked 86th.
  • Two of 20 police officers suspected of leaking the recordings from a hunting cabin were labelled problematic after a lie detector test, interim Police Corps President Štefan Hamran told the private broadcaster TV JOJ. It is possible they will not continue working in their current posts.
  • Former special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik plans to turn to the European Court of Human Rights, complaining about the decision to keep him in custody. His complaint was recently turned down by the Constitutional Court. Kováčik wanted €10,000 in compensation. (Denník N)
  • Slovakia will pay €277.251 million to the European Union which, according to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the EU lost in customs revenues due to the imports of undervalued Chinese textiles and footwear into Slovakia between the years 2012 and 2019. (TASR)
  • The three most-searched words on Google in 2021 in Slovakia were korona.gov.sk, Edupage and Bezkriedy.
  • Slovakia’s list of intangible cultural heritage has lengthened. A shepherd’s mug, črpák, and six other items such as Skalický trdelník and lift dances from the Myjava-Trenčín region were added.

One last note: The Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMÚ) issued a second-level warning against heavy snowfall that may be accompanied by strong winds for selected districts of western Slovakia, including Bratislava. For the rest of the western-Slovak districts and most of the central-Slovak districts, a first-level warning has been issued. The warnings are in place from December 9 (Thursday) at 4:00 until 6:00 on December 10 (Friday).


More on Spectator.sk today:

The largest disinformation website issued a printed magazine and sent it to schools Read more 

Košice plans to build a new city centre. A similar plan took half a century in Scotland Read more 

Feast on the best roasted goose in all of 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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