Welcome to your weekly commentary and overview of news from Slovakia. The year starts with the country waiting, but not exactly bracing, for Omicron. A vaccine mandate seems unlikely for now. The President is calling on people not to be provoked by hatred. A far-right MP must pay damages to a well-known infectious diseases expert. And don’t throw away that cola bottle!
The slowest week of the year is over and with the arrival of the new year, Slovakia only seems to be starting to figure out how to handle the next wave of the pandemic, which is expected to be sweeping but fast. Unlike in most of Europe, the return to work is rather slow in Slovakia, with one national holiday still ahead, on January 6, when part of the population celebrates the Orthodox Christmas.
The measures that have been in force over the holidays will mostly remain in place until next Monday, January 10, when school holidays end. Calling the regime that Slovakia follows at the moment a lockdown would be pure mockery. In addition to hotels and ski resorts, restaurants, cafes and pubs – comprising the sector that has received the biggest economic blow, along with the culture industry, in Slovakia so far – are allowed to open, but only for the vaccinated and those who can prove they have recovered from Covid in the past six months.
The reported numbers still indicate a downward trend because of the receding third wave driven by the Delta variant, which lends some logic to the easing of measures – but as Omicron increasingly dominates across western Europe, including in neighbouring Vienna, the question of what the start of the year will look like in Slovakia is becoming ever more pressing. Answers from the government are, as usual, scarce.