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Health News

Slovakia bans most public cultural, sports events over COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic arrives for the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 17, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Slovakia’s government is banning most public cultural and sports events due to the accelerating spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Monday.

Matovic told a news conference people should wear face masks, avoid family gatherings and keep distancing to avoid further restrictions.

“All the measures will be in effect from Oct. 1 until further notice. Until we break the rising curve to a declining one,” Matovic said.

Slovakia has had one of the lowest death tolls from the coronavirus - 44 as of Monday - but new cases have started to rise, with daily record of 522 on Friday, for a total of 9,343 as of Monday.

Chief public health officer Jan Mikas said the ban on public events would include sporting and cultural events and masses. Exceptions will include marriages and funerals, but only the services or ceremonies will be permitted, without any social gatherings.

The exact wording of the rules is yet to be finalised and some exceptions will be made such as sport where all participants have a fresh negative test for the coronavirus -- meaning some professional matches might be able to take place.

Bars and restaurants will have to be closed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and only enterprises with seating will be allowed to operate. Shops will have to limit the number of customers shopping at one time.

Rules for wearing face masks will be tightened to include exterior places where people cannot keep a 2-metre distance.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Alison Williams

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