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Slovakia eases COVID measures as omicron surge yet to hit

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FILE- A man wearing a face mask carries a takeaway lunch from a restaurant in the Old town of Bratislava Slovakia, Nov. 25, 2021. On Monday Jan. 10, 2022, Slovakia has been easing coronavirus restrictions after a decline in new infections while the fast-spreading omicron variant is yet to fully hit the country. (Martin Baumann/TASR via AP, File)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia is easing coronavirus restrictions after a decline in new infections while the fast-spreading omicron variant is yet to fully hit the country.

The changes include the cancellation Monday of the overnight curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. The move allows bars and restaurants, stores and others to stay open without restrictions. Only fully vaccinated people and those who have recovered from COVID-19 are eligible to enter bars, restaurants, hotels, ski resorts, religious services and stores selling nonessential goods.

Elementary and high schools fully reopened. but schoolchildren and students have to wear face coverings. The government also decided to partially lift restrictions for various public events, including concerts and sport competitions, allowing the number of spectators to reach up to 50% of capacity. In the case of high-risk events, such as weddings, parties, discotheques and others, up to 20 people can attend. Only the vaccinated or those who have recovered from COVID-19 are eligible.

Under the delta variant, Slovakia had faced a record surge of infections recently, but new cases have been on the decline of late.

The nation of 5.5 million people has reported a total of around 864,000 COVID-19 cases and 16,989 deaths. About 2.6 million are considered fully vaccinated in Slovakia — that is below the EU average.

Confirming the recent trend, 2,117 COVID-19 patients needed hospitalization on Sunday, down from over 3,600 in early December.

Slovak authorities have been expecting the omicron variant to become dominant later in January. Only 54 omicron cases have been officially confirmed by Friday.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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