Slovakia Brings Back Anti-COVID Measures, Emergency State Proposed

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Prime Minister Igor Matovic (L) and chief Slovak hygienist Jan Mikas at a press conference held on September 28, 2020 (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, September 28 (TASR) – Slovakia is likely to declare the state of emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak again, Prime Minister Igor Matovic (OLaNO) announced after a meeting of the central crisis team on Monday.

The measure still needs to be approved by the Government on Wednesday (September 30).

“It won’t be just for the health sector, it’ll be a general state of emergency,” elucidated Matovic, adding that the state of emergency during the first wave of the outbreak was only health-related. The Government declared it on March 16 and it lasted until June 14.

In Matovic’s view, the state of emergency should be declared due to the fact that no one can predict how the situation regarding the coronavirus will develop. The Prime Minister is particularly concerned about the situation in hospitals and elderly homes.

“We need to have this “backup weapon” at the ready. A specific motion is to be drafted by the time the Government convenes on Wednesday and then I’ll be able to tell you more,” Matovic told journalists.

As of October 1, the wearing of face masks will become mandatory outdoors in Slovakia again, in case the distancing between people is less than two metres.

High school students as well as second-level elementary school students will need to continue wearing face masks at schools, although they will be only recommended and not mandatory for the youngest, first-level elementary pupils.

Mass participation events will be banned in Slovakia as of October, with the exception of weddings, funerals, baptisms, sessions of public administration bodies and events, where every single participant can submit a negative test for COVID-19, said chief hygienist Jan Mikas.

Sports, cultural and business events will be banned as well as religious services. The crisis team advises against organising family celebrations.

The only food service allowed to operate in Slovakia as of October will be restaurants and cafes where customers are seated. Matovic urged people to wear face coverings in restaurants all the time and take them off only when they eat and drink. Food service facilities can be open only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The wearing of face coverings will be mandatory in shops again as of October 1, along with 2-metre social distancing and hand disinfection. Restrictions are to be re-introduced also regarding the number of customers allowed, as stores will need to ensure ten square metres per customer.

Hungary and Austria will remain on the list of less risky countries in terms of COVID-19, stated Mikas, pointing out that Hungary and Austria face similar problems with the outbreak as Slovakia. “For the moment, the risk level of these countries for Slovakia is not changing… That’s also due to the fact that the epidemiological situation in Slovakia has taken a significant turn for the worse,” he said. According to the chief hygienist, the Slovak tally is comparable to that of the neighbouring countries.

Therefore, shutting down borders would be neither efficient nor appropriate, said Mikas, pointing out that most cases of COVID-19 illness are contracted at mass participation events, various business events and weddings.