News digest: How to enjoy a Covid-free Easter

Košice-based steelmaker reportedly on sale. Be ready for closed shops during Easter holiday.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Welcome to the Thursday, April 14, 2022 edition of Today in Slovakia, giving you the main news of the day in under five minutes.

Please note that our daily news digest will take a short break during the Easter holiday. The next edition will be on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

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Tips for a safe Easter holiday

This year’s Easter festivities will be quite different from the previous two years, when the country was in Covid-19 lockdowns of varying degrees.

This time around, nearly all restrictions have been dropped, except for those concerning masks and FFP2 respirators that are still required inside buildings (including shops) and on public transport.

Even though the pandemic situation seems to be improving, with all important indicators declining, authorities say people still need to be careful.

With this in mind, the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) has published recommendations on how to spend the holidays safely.

This includes wearing a respirator indoors, at places where groups gather, at work meetings taking place before family visits, at church services held both indoors and outdoors, as well as when returning to work team after the holidays.

People should also spend as much time outdoors as possible if the situation and weather allows it, they said.

When planning to meet older people, people with chronic diseases, pregnant women or other people prone to infection and serious development of disease, try avoiding risky places before the visit and taking a self-test, if possible.

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Prepare for closed shops

Most shops in Slovakia will be closed during the Easter holiday, including those selling groceries, electronics, clothes, cosmetics and other products.

In 2017, a law was passed forcing the closure of retail shops during certain holidays. This means they will be closed for Good Friday (April 15), Easter Sunday (April 17) and Easter Monday (April 18).

Some shops can stay open, such as those where only the individual owner serves customers. People will also be able to purchase goods at petrol stations or in shops at airports or train and bus stations. Pharmacies will also be able to open, as will cafés and restaurants.

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Refugees from Ukraine

  • 3,308 people from Ukraine crossed the border with Slovakia on April 13; 648 applied for temporary protection. Altogether 330,305 refugees have crossed the border since the war started in late February; of them, 67,261 have applied for temporary protection.
  • The number of refugees from Ukraine who found a job in Slovakia has risen by more than half during the past week, to 4,102 people, according to the Labour Ministry. Most of them, more than one third, have work in industry, and about 8 percent in cleaning services.
  • The Who Will Help Ukraine initiative will send more than €220,000 to Ukrainian families. The money will be distributed to more than 10,000 people.
  • The willingness of people in Slovakia to help Ukraine has remained at similar levels to what it was during the first days of the war. This is closely linked to attitudes towards who is responsible for the war – people blaming the USA and NATO are less willing to help Ukrainians financially or offer them accommodation, according to a recent poll carried out by the MNFORCE company, the Seesame agency and the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
  • The national postal service operator Slovenská Pošta will pay out state social benefits to refugees from Ukraine who have been granted the temporary protection and applied for financial support between April 19 and 27. The most money will be paid out in Bratislava Region.

Picture of the day

Slovakia is getting ready for Easter. The Museum and Cultural Centre of Southern Zemplín in Trebišov organised an event last Sunday, where visitors could attend workshops or buy handmade products.

Feature story for today

Attitudes in Slovakia towards the EU and national institutions was surveyed in the latest of a series of regular polls in late January and early February. Data from the most recent Eurobarometer survey showed that before the war in Ukraine began, about one-third (35 percent) of Slovakia’s inhabitants perceived the EU positively and 26 percent viewed it negatively.

The Eurobarometer results were updated in mid-April, when the Focus polling agency surveyed opinion on the same themes. Its data showed that the share of respondents expressing a positive perception of the EU had increased to 42 percent, while negative perceptions had also risen slightly (to 27 percent), with the remaining 30 percent viewing the EU neutrally.

Slovaks lack trust in the EU, but are happy to be members (graphs) Read more 

In other news

  • Only slightly more than a quarter of people in Slovakia would be willing to fight for their country in a war if Slovakia ever found itself in an armed conflict. Conversely, 37.1 percent said they would not engage in any fight, and 35.4 percent did not know how to respond to the question, according to the latest “How Are You Slovakia?” poll, carried out by the MNFORCE company, the Seesame agency and the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
  • Tomáš Szabó, one of the defendants in the Kuciak murder case, has pleaded guilty to planning the murders of other people. He is currently facing charges of planning the murders of two prosecutors and a lawyer, but has previously been sentenced for his involvement in the double murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová. It is thought his confession might affect both cases since they are now being considered together in court.
  • The Košice-based branch of U.S. Steel is allegedly for sale, as the Hospodárske Noviny daily reported. There are not many details known at the moment, and neither the company nor the Economy Ministry has confirmed the report.
  • 2,676 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 8,116 PCR tests performed on April 13. The number of people in hospitals is 1,385; 27 more deaths were reported on Wednesday. The vaccination rate stands at 51.28 percent; 2,820,670 people have received a first dose of a vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • The annual inflation rate in Slovakia exceeded 10 percent, after consumer prices rose by 10.4 percent year-on-year in March 2022. In monthly terms, prices went up by 1.7 percent. They rose in almost all consumer basket sectors, especially food, housing and energy, fuels, in the whole sector of transport, post, and telecommunications and tobacco, according to the Statistics Office.
  • European countries have expelled a total of 449 employees at Russian embassies in response to the war in Ukraine. The most expulsions were in Poland (45); Slovakia had the fourth highest with 38, Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď wrote on Facebook.

Tips for Easter reads:

Will you get a cold shower or a whipping this Easter? Read more 

Neither buckets of water nor whips. Celebrate holidays with Easter cuisine Read more 

Memories of a meditative Easter in Bratislava Read more 

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