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Slovakia approves “smart quarantine” using voluntary mobile app

Bratislava, Slovakia – On Thursday, the Slovak government approved a new legislation to upgrade its tracking system and introduce a “smart quarantine” app in the country.

According to the bill, which was approved by Parliament the following day in fast-track proceedings, people returning from abroad will now be allowed to self-isolate at home as long as they use a mobile app which tracks their movement.

Until now, anyone returning from abroad, including Slovak citizens, had to go into state-run quarantine facilities until they were tested for Covid-19.

Although the government of Prime Minister Igor Matovic has been praised for how it handled the pandemic, allowing Slovakia to have one of the lowest per capita rates of infection and death tolls in Europe, this controversial measure faced a growing backlash over the past several weeks and has been flagged as a serious violation of fundamental human rights.

Outrage only grew, especially among Slovaks living abroad and in neighbouring Czech Republic, when evidence of the poor sanitary conditions of some of these state-run quarantine facilities came to light.

“This smart solution will allow returnees to self-isolate at home if they agree to install the application after crossing the border”, announced Slovak Health Minister Marek Krajci earlier this week.

The use of mobile tracking will be voluntary. Anyone who agrees to the smart quarantine scheme will have to download the app when entering Slovakia, and would still face fines of up to €1,650 in case of breaching self-isolation.

Although the government said the app could be up-and-running as early as next week, it’s still unsure when exactly this “smart quarantine” will come into effect due to potential legal hurdles. Earlier this week, Slovakia’s Constitutional Court suspended parts of a previous legislation, approved in March, that allowed public authorities to access telecoms data in order to track people infected with coronavirus.

Additional details regarding the “smart quarantine” app should be made public on Monday.

Main photo credit: Official Facebook page of OLaNO

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