Slovakia eyes offering over-60s jab bonus
Slovakia's government has proposed a plan to give people 60 and older a 500-euro ($A792) bonus if they get vaccinated against COVID-19, the finance minister says.
The measure, announced by Finance Minister Igor Matovic, should boost inoculations in the European Union country with one of the bloc's lowest vaccination rates.
About 46.1 per cent of the country's 5.5 million people have been fully vaccinated.
The current four-party ruling coalition in Slovakia has been split over the issue.
The pro-business Freedom and Solidarity opposed it, saying it was ready to support a 150-euro bonus only.
But the party didn't veto it, making the approval possible.
The bill will now go to parliament.
It would need some opposition support to be approved.
The bonus would be a voucher that could be used in restaurants, cafes, hotels or to buy tickets for sports, theatre, cinema, exhibitions or concerts.
It could be also used to pay hairdressers or fitness centres.
Matovic said the money from the state will also mean "hundreds million euros of extra help for the sectors that are the hardest hit" by the pandemic due to government restrictions.
A total of 1.2 million people who reach 60 this year and older could be eligible.
The Finance Ministry expects the measure would cost about 500 million euros.
Slovakia entered a two-week lockdown last Thursday as coronavirus infections reached record levels.
Under the lockdown, people can leave their homes only for specific reasons while unvaccinated people are required to get tested to go to work if they have not recovered from COVID-19.
A total of 3380 COVID-19 patients in Slovakia needed hospital treatment on Tuesday, which is well above the 3000-bed level considered critical by Slovakia's Health Ministry.
Almost 85 per cent of them haven't been fully vaccinated, the ministry said.
Overall since the start of the pandemic, Slovakia has registered almost 700,000 infected people with 14,503 deaths.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday that every citizen over the age of 60 in the country declining to get vaccinated would be fined 100 euros per month.
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