Good afternoon. The weekend is coming and we have prepared a quick summary of the main news of the day in our Friday, December 17, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.
Instead of strolling amongst stands with quality and handmade products and food, passers-by on Panenská and Podjavorinská Streets can see photos, videos and information mapping 10 years of Dobrý Trh, Good Market in English. Its organisers scrapped the Christmas edition of the popular event due to anti-pandemic measures and replaced it with an exhibition lasting until the end of January 2022.
“Thanks to our neighbours and outlets, we were given the opportunity to revive Panenská Street and remember the event, which is currently impossible to organise,” said organisers Illah van Oijen and Barbara Zavarská from the non-profit and non-governmental organisation Punkt, as cited in the press release. “However, we still hope the situation will improve and we will return to face-to-face meetings. In the past, 15,000-20,000 visitors visited the Good Market in one day.”
Feature story for today
An image of a farmer in a folk costume with a pair of oxen next to an image of a Tatra truck, both with the High Tatras in the background, or folk ornaments literally questioned by conceptual artist Július Koller. A painting of the struggle of rural Slovaks for a better life with the distinctive brushwork of the famed Martin Benka juxtaposed with an image by contemporary photographer Boris Németh, of two tanks with an ironic undertone somewhere in eastern Slovakia.
While each of these excellent pieces of art published in the book Slovakia in the Artworks of the Slovak National Gallery can stand alone, pairing them together and compiling them into a rich visual mosaic creates a deeper and sheerer picture of Slovakia.
“This book is not only one of many books about art,” said Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok at the launch of the book in early December. “It is a book about Slovakia, which tells the story of our country through art.”
Anniversary of the day
Slovakia will mark the 10th anniversary of the death of the last Czech-Slovak President Václav Havel. The Czech politician who played a key role in the Velvet Revolution died on December 18, 2011.
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Coronavirus and vaccination news
- 4,497 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 15,730 PCR tests performed on Thursday. The number of people in hospitals is 3,039 and 113 more deaths were reported on Thursday. The vaccination rate is at 49.34 percent; 2,713,817 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
- EU member states agreed to shorten the validity of Covid passes from twelve to nine months as of February 1, 2022, PM Eduard Heger announced after Thursday’s EU summit ended.
- Those vaccinated by the single-dose vaccine can get a booster dose as early as after two months, the National Centre for Health Information (NCZI) reported. Those interested can register via the korona.gov.sk website.
- The lottery for the vaccinated had a more significant effect on 13.5 percent of the population, the results of a survey by the Focus agency for the Finance Ministry indicates. In total, 1.4 million people enrolled in the lottery. The Finance Ministry considers the impact of this campaign as exceeding their expectations.
- As of December 17, updated anti-pandemic measures are in effect.
- Expenditures to support the vaccination of seniors as stipulated by Finance Minister Igor Matovič will range from €142 million to €336 million, the Council for Budget Responsibility (RRZ) has calculated.
- A total of 9,587 cases of suspected adverse reactions to vaccines against Covid-19 had been reported in Slovakia by Wednesday, December 15, the State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) writes on its website, adding that 1,269 of these cases were serious. As of Thursday, December 16, ŠÚKL had registered seven deaths with causal links to vaccination; in four of these cases, the link (following inoculation with the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines) was defined as possible. The links in three cases (following inoculation with the AstraZeneca vaccine) were judged to be probable.
- Mandatory vaccination against coronavirus will probably be a necessary measure in Slovakia, President Zuzana Čaputová said at a press conference on Friday, December 17.
- The police detained ex-prime minister and chair of the opposition Smer party Robert Fico shortly before Thursday's planned protest against the government and President Zuzana Čaputová. He was detained for violating the ban on gatherings. The protest was to take place on Tyršovo Nábrežie in Bratislava, in the form of a car procession. Following his release from the police station, Fico said that he was charged with the crime of incitement.
- Suburban transport in Bratislava Region will be free of charge in January to compensate passengers for the line outages of the new suburban transport operator in the region, Arriva. The free transport will be financed through an almost €1 million fine imposed on Arriva for the insufficient service.
- Railway passenger carrier ZSSK will suspend more than 350 regular trains from operation as of Sunday, December 19, until further notice, due to the lockdown, fewer travelling passengers and a shortage in personnel. However, ZSSK plans to offset the expected increase in the number of passengers during the Christmas holidays with four additional SuperCity trains and 35 regional express trains.
- The planned reform of taxes and levies of Finance Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) will cost €2.4 billion annually. Family policy measures will account for €1.1 billion, changes in personal taxation will cost more than €700 million and business tax reform less than €600 million, analysts of the Financial Policy Institute have calculated, the Denník N wrote.
- The biggest source of wealth and appreciation of assets of successful Slovaks in the last 12 months were investment gains, especially from investments in shares and real estate, J&T Banka's Wealth Report on dollar millionaires indicated. In terms of the development of their wealth, the year 2021 was more favourable for them than the year 2020.
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