Slovakia eases Covid rules despite surge in cases
The Slovak government allowed shops, ski resorts and churches to reopen Friday to those who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid, despite having the highest infection rate in the world.
The EU member of 5.4 million people, which went into partial lockdown late last month, registered 1,099 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, according to an AFP tally.
The decision to ease restrictions came after public criticism of the government’s policies over not being able to go Christmas shopping or make plans for the holidays.
“The Covid situation is still very serious but we have it under control,” Health Minister Vladimir Lengvarsky said this week after the decision was announced.
“Opening shops is a relatively risky move from an epidemiological point of view, but it is to appease the public.”
Government spokeswoman Lubica Janikova said the decision was not set in stone and would be re-evaluated in the coming days.
“The government will discuss the situation in hospitals next week and it is possible that the measures will change after that,” she said.
Economy Minister Richard Sulik first announced the decision Wednesday, saying “we are opening all shops for the vaccinated and those who have recovered from the coronavirus”.
The decision came with occupancy limits and also applied to hairdressers, fitness centres, ski resorts and churches.
Sulik said the government decided to keep restaurants closed to all, though they can still offer takeaway meals.
Hotels will be allowed to reopen to the vaccinated as of December 25, though only members of the same household will be able to share a room.
Slovakia has one of the European Union’s lowest vaccination rates, with less than half the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19.