Only those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to attend the meeting with Pope Francis, who will visit Slovakia in September, announced Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský, after an agreement with the President of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia Stanislav Zvolenský was reached.
“Taking this decision, we want to make the visit of the Holy Father in Slovakia a spiritual experience for as many people as possible,” the minister explained. Mass events on this occasion will be open to more people than current rules allow.
The decision means that unvaccinated people have only 11 days left to get fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines if they want to attend the event. If vaccinated at a later date, people will not be able to attend or obtain full protection.
The Pope’s visit could boost vaccination rates, as up to 76% of Slovaks identify as Christians. It is therefore expected that many of Slovakia’s citizens will want to come to events with the Pope.
Slovakia continues to struggle with a fading interest in the vaccine as only 40% of the population has already received the first dose, of which 34% are fully vaccinated.
The Pope will spend three days in Slovakia, from 12 to 15 September. In addition to the three largest Slovak cities (Bratislava, Košice, Prešov), he will also visit the well-known pilgrimage site of Šaštín. It will be a pastoral visit, which means that the Pope will hold several masses and meet with the faithful.