News digest: Ban on family visits during Christmas holidays to be reconsidered

Vaccinated seniors will be entitled to a financial bonus. The Slovak president does not plan to attend the Olympics in Beijing.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Read the Thursday, December 9 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.

Parliament approved financial bonus for vaccinated seniors

Seniors aged 60+ who get a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2021 or at the beginning of January will be entitled to a €300 financial bonus.

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Other seniors of the same age category who receive the second or at least first jab will be rewarded with a financial bonus of €200.

This stems from the law passed by parliament today. The Health Ministry is ready to increase vaccination capacities so everyone who would like to get a jab will be able to do so within the given deadline.

The bonuses should be sent to eligible seniors automatically; no registration is required. However, only seniors who have been vaccinated in Slovakia and have residency here are entitled to the bonus.

State quarantine contradicts Constitution

The Constitutional Court decided that state quarantine, a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that was in place in Slovakia in spring 2020, is at odds with the Constitution.

The court objected especially to the “isolation in a medical facility or other designated facility in connection with the legal definition of isolation and the absence of the procedural guarantees of personal freedom."

With this decision, the court partially accepted the motion submitted by Ombudswoman Mária Patakyová. She questioned the constitutionality of mandatory state quarantine and the powers of the Health Ministry and hygienists to adopt any anti-pandemic measures without clear specification.

Coronavirus and vaccination news

  • 8,523 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 22,238 PCR tests performed on Wednesday. The number of people in hospitals is 3,419 people and 84 more deaths were reported on Wednesday. The vaccination rate is at 48.84 percent; 2,686,274 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • Seniors are the biggest group of people who are hospitalised and unvaccinated. There are 1,391 of them in the age category 65 and more; 77 are connected to lung ventilators.
  • The Health Ministry and all regions want to support interest in vaccination through a nationwide event, Darujem si Vianoce (Let’s Give Each Other Christmas). New dates for vaccination will open and capacities will increase between December 11 and 18.
  • People who got a jab of the single-dose vaccine Janssen will be able to get a booster shot in eight weeks by the mRNA vaccine. Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský signed the shortening of the time period.
  • The ban on family visits during Christmas will be reconsidered. Economy Minister Richard Sulík said it is nonsense; MP Juraj Šeliga proposed that family visits should work the same as they did last year when only two families were allowed to meet during the Christmas holidays. Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský told the Denník N daily that the government will probably reconsider it at the next session.

Travel info

A negative PCR test result no older than 48 hours is necessary to enter Russia. The test should be shown before boarding the plane and when transiting the country and on Russian borders. People who travel to Russia for work should stay in 14-day quarantine. No exception applies to vaccinated and recovered people.

Photo of the day

Heavy snowfall has complicated traffic in Bratislava, and M. R. Štefánik Airport had to close in the afternoon. The unfavorable meteorological situation has complicated the departure of the route to Dublin, with a delay of 73 minutes; four planned arrivals were canceled. The meteorological warnings remain in place for December 10.

Feature story for today

Rana Hashemi likes heavy metal music. She has seen dozens of concerts and been to festivals, and the music fan even has her own metal band. Nothing special in Europe. However, she comes from Iran, where metalheads face the threat of being accused of Satanism, putting morality in peril or committing apostasy in Islam.

She says that when people complain about how bad their life in Slovakia is, they do not know what they are talking about because they have freedom.

Elegant metalhead from Iran: People forget freedom when they moan about life in Slovakia Read more 

In other news

  • President Zuzana Čaputová is not planning to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing. She shares the reservations due to which several state leaders have chosen not to take part in the Winter Olympics. Seven Slovak MEPs, led by Miriam Lexmann, have asked Slovak constitutional representatives to boycott the Olympics of Beijing because of China's breaches of Uyghur human rights. (Euractiv)
  • The Education Ministry adjusted the amendment of the law on higher education after objections. The ministry said that it removed the politicisation against which universities protested. Neither the ministry nor the academic senate will be able to arbitrarily nominate people to the boards of directors.
  • Exports from Slovakia continued to decline year-on-year in October for the second month in a row. However, according to the Statistics Office, the rate of decline slowed to 2.3 percent from 4.8 percent in September.
  • Ján Hero has been named the new Proxy for the Roma community. The government removed Andrea Bučková, who has been in office since April 2020. The Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities has been transferred from the Interior Ministry to the Government's Office.
  • The court stopped the prosecution of Irena Matová, the last defendant in the case of a police raid in Moldava nad Bodvou in 2013. Judge Martin Baločko, a judge of the Košice I District Court, made the ruling on Tuesday based on an international agreement. The decision is not yet valid.
  • A National Criminal Agency (NAKA) investigator accused employees of the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family in Pezinok of the particularly serious crime of subsidy fraud committed by complicity. The allegation is related to fraud in the payment of pandemic aid. The four accused people face 10 to 15 years in prison.
  • Roma Spirit 2021 awards were given to the non-profit organisation Návrat, Bratislava, the town of Fiľakovo, boxer Viliam Tankó, company PASELL SLOVAKIA llc., editor Jozef Šivák and fashion designer Pavol Berky. The Act of the Year Jury awarded the prize to the elaborate Romany-Slovak phraseological dictionary compiled and created by Martina Horňáková.

Do not miss on today

Train schedule changes on December 12. Košice should be better connected to Budapest Read more  She did not speak a word of English when she moved to New York. Now she teaches German to Americans Read more  Strečno Castle is closed, but conservators have their hands full Read more  Postal service operator changes its delivery system due to national emergency Read more  Making your own beeswax candles is easier than you think Read more 

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