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Slovakia locks down for two weeks

Slovakia locks down for two weeks

A curfew is imposed for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated, schools and the country’s borders remain open

Tweaking the Covid automaton has proved insufficient to bend the curve of infection in Slovakia, so the government declared a state of emergency for 90 days as of Thursday, 25 November, imposing a full nationwide lockdown with curfew. Thus it became the second European country after Austria to reinstate the hard lockdown as a measure of last-resort amid the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Highest infection rise per capita worldwide

On Tuesday, Slovakia recorded 10,315 new Covid-19 cases, the highest number since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020. And although cases are now shooting up in neighbouring states, including Czechia, Poland and Hungary, the new numbers make the country with a population of about 5.5 million global leader in new infections per capita. Meanwhile, the number of hospitalizations has reached the critical threshold of 3,200 with hospitals complaining of beds with lung ventilation capability quickly filling up and of shortage in staff trained to operate them.

Curfew with exemptions

The curfew will be in place for two weeks between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m the next day and will apply to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals, TASR newswire reports. The government will reassess the situation after 10 days and decide whether to extend the restrictions or lift them, but only for the fully vaccinated and those recovered in the past 6 months.

There are exemptions from the curfew. These include the purchase of essential necessities in the nearest shop, access to essential services (sale of packaged food, banks, insurance companies, car repair shops and MOT test stations, dry cleaners, e-shop outlets, key services, opticians, mobile phone services, spas for health reasons), trips to and from work with the consent of the employer. Home office is strongly recommended.

The stay-at-home order will not apply to attending Covid-19 vaccination and testing centres, accompanying children to kindergartens and schools, or visiting natural surroundings within the district of residence.

Trips for the purpose of caring for livestock, walking pets within 500 metres from one’s home, travel for medical or caregiving reasons, attending funerals, marriages and baptisms will also be exempted.

New rules for going to work, schools remain open

In the meantime, the new rules for entering a workplace, which require employees to present either confirmation of vaccination, recovery from Covid-19, or a weekly negative test result, will come into effect on 29 November and will apply until the end of the year.

In-class learning will continue, but schoolchildren will be required to wear masks and undergo regular tests. State borders remain open.

Announcing the state of emergency decree, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said: “We need to get together as a society. The situation is serious,” calling for unity between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, between the ruling coalition and the opposition, and in society as a whole.

President Zuzana Caputova on her part described the lockdown as a measure which is unpopular and unfair to the vaccinated, but is “absolutely unavoidable".

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