The Slovak government has introduced a two-week lockdown in the whole country due to the rapidly increasing new positive cases of COVID-19, announced Economy Minister Richard Sulik (Freedom and Solidarity/SaS).
Slovakia has recorded the world´s fastest rise in positive cases. As of November 23, 10,315 people were positively diagnosed with COVID-19, going up to 631,738 in total. It joins neighbouring Austria in being among the first countries in the EU to reintroduce a full lockdown.
All restaurants and shops (except for the essential ones) will be closed. Free movement will be limited to essential trips to the shop, work, school and doctors. Schools will remain open and will be the last to be closed. Only vaccinated people and those who suffered from COVID-19 in the last 180 days will be allowed to enter their workplace without the test. Others will have to undertake mandatory testing.
"We all wish and hope that the situation will improve by then. We will evaluate it again in 10 days," Sulik was quoted a saying by the Slovak News Agency. "The situation is serious," said Prime Minister Eduard Heger, adding that the government was forced to approve a lockdown as the current measures were not followed.
The lockdown is controversial even within the government as it was only on Monday, November 22, that the government tightened the anti-coronavirus measures in all regions for the next three weeks, by introducing a lockdown for unvaccinated individuals. The new rules apply to everyone, whether vaccinated or not.
According to Investment Minister Veronika Remisova from the junior coalition party For the People, the new measures are a big mistake and are irresponsible in the long term as there is no motivation for unvaccinated people to get inoculated.
"I consider it to be a big mistake to throw overboard people protected by vaccination. The three coalition partners have approved measures, but there is no motivation to encourage people to get a vaccination," Remisova posted on Facebook, adding that a lockdown would only postpone deaths of COVID-19.
“A lockdown is no proper solution. It’s a short-term and temporary solution, and a very costly one at that, which will only postpone the situation by a few months. As we don’t want to deal with repeating pandemic waves, we need a systematic solution: vaccination,” Remisova said, as quoted by the news agency.
The total number of fully vaccinated Slovaks has reached 2.5mn, which is around 47% of the total population, the EU’s third-lowest rate. Some 70% of new positive patients being hospitalised are unvaccinated.Vaccination has been hampered by widespread scepticism, fuelled by online misinformation.