Slovakia declared a 90-day state of emergency and a two-week lockdown following a spike in COVID-19 cases that saw the country’s seven-day average of cases rise above 10,000.
The central European country is currently in the midst of the world’s fastest rise in infections, and the measures, which include closing all non-essential stores, as well as bars and restaurants, are meant to help the struggling healthcare system.
The decision came after president Zuzana Čaputová addressed the nation on Tuesday, saying that “Slovakia is losing the battle against COVID.” She also explained that the lockdown was needed as the healthcare staff became overworked, and the strain on the hospitals became almost unbearable.
During the two-week lockdown, people will be allowed to leave their homes only for specific reasons, such as buying groceries, travelling to work and school, or getting vaccinated.
Those still unvaccinated will be required to have a test or proof that they have had COVID-19 in order to get to work.
Just 45.3% of the 5.5 million population is fully vaccinated.
Thousands in both Czech and Slovakian capitals, Prague and Bratislava, used last week’s anniversary of the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution to rally against their government’s coronavirus restrictions.