Slovakia to re-open shops for vaccinated, others face longer lockdown
PRAGUE, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Slovakia will on Friday re-open non-essential shops and some services for those vaccinated against COVID-19 while at the same time extending a lockdown for others and closing some schools, Health Minister Vladimir Lengvarsky said.
The central European country of 5.5 million people has struggled with one of the world's worst coronavirus waves in the past few weeks, and shut shops and services for all people for two weeks ending Dec. 9.
Lengvarsky had sought to extend the general lockdown until Dec. 16, and to ease it for the vaccinated from Dec. 17.
But the government, seeking to raise the appeal of vaccinations in one of Europe's least inoculated countries, opted to ease rules now for those who received the shots while extending them until Jan. 9 for the rest. read more
All shops and services such as fitness centres and hairdressers will open for those who have been inoculated, Lengvarsky said on Wednesday.
Hotels will open for vaccinated in the next stage, from Dec. 25, but restaurants will remain closed for all into the new year. In other tightening steps, high schools and upper grades at elementary schools will switch to online classes Dec. 13-17, the last full week before the Christmas holidays.
Slovakia had 3,503 patients hospitalised for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, of whom 85% were not fully vaccinated, government data showed.
The government set 3,800 hospitalisations as the next critical level, which would trigger a possible return of tougher restrictions, Lengvarsky said.
Slovakia is one of EU's least vaccinated countries, with 46.5% of total population fully vaccinated, compared to an EU average of 66.8%, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Slovakia has reported 15,095 COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the pandemic early last year.
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