Slovakia to step up measures against coronavirus -health minister

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face mask as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads in the area around Roma settlements, in Krompachy, Slovakia April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Slovakia will put in place stricter measures from Thursday to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, including a requirement to wear face masks in public and limits to public gatherings, its health minister said on Sunday.

The country has reported a sharp increase in new coronavirus cases in recent days, recording 19,851 cases on Saturday, up from 13,139 over the week.

The Crisis Committee adopted a set of measures aimed mostly at preventing people from gathering in large groups, including requiring the wearing of masks in residential areas when closer than 5 metres (16 feet) to people other than family members, Health Minister Marek Krajci said.

All public events will be banned and the government will also debate on Monday whether to limit public gatherings to more than six people, Krajci added.

“We knew that if we don’t adopt fierce measures, then the curve (of new cases) will grow in a very similar way to the Czech Republic,” he said.

Restaurants will be allowed only to serve food outdoors or for takeout. All fitness facilities, aquaparks, swimming pools and saunas will be closed.

Shopping centres will be required to provide at least 15 square metres (160 square feet) of space for each customer, while grocery stores and drugstores will have certain times reserved for senior citizens.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Michael Kahn and Peter Cooney

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