The Slovak parliament approved an amendment to the law that will favor vaccinated people if the epidemic worsens. However, the advantages will be smaller than originally intended by Minister of Health Vladimír Lengvarský.
On Sunday, 77 of the 135 deputies present supported the law, while 55 legislators voted against the norm.
The amendment allows the regional public health office to order a temporary conditional entry to mass events in the case of a threat to public health. People will prove themselves healthy by a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19, a negative test, or a confirmation of having already had the disease. The amendment must be signed by President Zuzana Čaputová and will take effect after its publication in the Collection of Laws.
Vaccinated people will have free access to shops, restaurants, sports venues, and cultural events, even if epidemic measures are tightened.
Deputies have been debating the amendment since Friday, and hundreds of people have protested against the planned measures in front of the parliament building with slogans such as “Gestapo”, “treason”, or “give us parliament”. The crowd blocked the entrance to the parliament and some people tried to break in. During the skirmish, a policewoman was injured when someone in the crowd attacked her with a defensive spray.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger said he understood people are already tired of the pandemic. “None of us are comfortable with the measures. Democracy also includes the right to express one’s opinion. The demonstrations must take place in peace. Any attack or aggression against police officers is inadmissible,“ said Heger.
The agreement in the governing coalition was originally blocked by disputes over the payment of tests. However, on Saturday, the governing coalition reached a compromise when it agreed that if the epidemic worsened, the unvaccinated would be able to test for free.
Title image: Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, May 24, 2021. European Union leaders are expected, during a two-day in-person meeting, to focus on foreign relations, including Russia and the UK. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP)