Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Slovakia sees bonus to increase vaccinations for people 60 and older

BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA (AP) – The Slovak government has proposed a plan to give people 60 and over a € 500 ($ 568) bonus in case of COVID-19 vaccination, the finance minister said Wednesday.

The measure, announced by Finance Minister Igor Matovic, should increase the number of vaccinations in the EU country with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the bloc. So far, only 46.1% of the 5.5 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated.

The current four-party ruling coalition in Slovakia is divided over this issue. The pro-business organization Freedom and Solidarity opposed this, saying it was willing to support only a € 150 ($ 170) bonus. But the party did not veto, which made approval possible.

The bill will now go to parliament. It will require some opposition support to get it approved.

The bonus will be a voucher that can be used in restaurants, cafes, hotels or to buy tickets for sporting events, theaters, movies, exhibitions or concerts. It could also be used to pay for hairdressers or fitness centers.

Matovic said the money from the state also means “hundreds of millions of euros in additional aid for the sectors most affected” by the pandemic due to government restrictions.

A total of 1.2 million people who turn 60 or older this year may be eligible. The Ministry of Finance expects this measure to cost about 500 million euros ($ 568 million).

Slovakia imposed a two-week nationwide lockdown last Thursday as coronavirus infections hit record levels. Under quarantine, people can only leave their homes for specific reasons, while unvaccinated people must be tested to go to work if they are not cured of COVID-19.

A total of 3,380 COVID-19 patients in Slovakia required inpatient treatment on Tuesday, well above the 3,000-bed level that the Slovak Ministry of Health considers critical. Almost 85% of them were not fully vaccinated, according to the ministry.

In total, almost 700,000 infected people have been registered in Slovakia, 14,503 people have died.

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Follow all AP pandemic stories at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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