Prague, Czech Republic – The past week was rather tumultuous, one might even say chaotic in terms of new coronavirus measures introduced in the Czech Republic. Here’s a quick breakdown to understand exactly what happened and what’s changed.
Czech borders (kind of) reopen
Since Friday, April 24, Czech borders have officially reopened, allowing Czechs and foreigners living in the Czech Republic to leave the country and travel abroad, even for recreational purposes. The Czech Republic had closed its borders and kept Czechs (but not foreign nationals) from travelling abroad since mid-March after declaring a state of national emergency.
But there’s a slight catch. Anyone returning to the Czech Republic will either have to test negative for Covid-19 or go into self-quarantine for 14 days. Moreover, considering the restrictions still in place in many other countries in Europe and across the world, holidaying and international travel options remain quite limited.
A part of its plan to ease anti-coronavirus measures and travel restrictions, the Czech Republic is however negotiating with a few countries, including Slovakia and Croatia, to allow Czechs to spend their holidays there or in other countries where the epidemiological situation is similar or better.
Most foreigners, including tourists, are still barred from entering the Czech Republic. Some exceptions apply for EU citizens coming to the Czech Republic for business or study purposes, who might be allowed to cross the border if they fulfill certain requirements (more information of the website of the Czech Interior Ministry).
End of the ban on free movement
As of Friday, the ban on the free movement in the Czech Republic has also been cancelled, meaning that people can move freely in the country including to go to work, visit friends and relatives, to exercise or to shop. Group gathering are now limited to a maximum of 10 persons.
Shops and businesses reopening sped up
The gradual 5-step plan to reopen shops and businesses released two weeks ago by the government has been moved forward, with the last stage now falling on May 25.
As of Monday, April 27, shops of up the 2,500 m² will be allowed to reopen if they’re not located in large shopping centres, as well as gym and fitness centres, outdoor zoos and gardens, driving schools, libraries and church services of up to 15 people.
On May 11, there will no longer be any restrictions for shops over 2,500 m² and shopping malls. Hair salons will be allowed to reopen, along with museums, galleries and exhibition halls. The outdoor areas of cafes, bars and restaurants will also be open to the public.
And finally on May 25, restrictions on indoor seating in cafes, pubs and restaurants will be lifted, while hotels, theatres and other cultural venues and social activities will also be allowed to reopen. Sports events will be allowed with a limitation on the number of attendees still to be determined.
State of emergency and face-masks
Despite earlier indications that suggested otherwise, the Czech government remains cautious as to future developments and has asked Parliament to approve the extension of the state of emergency, initially due to expire on April 30, until May 25.
Furthermore, face-masks are still mandatory in public, and could remain obligatory until the end of June, according to recent statements by Health Minister Adam Vojtech (ANO).
Main photo credit: EPA-EFE / Martin Divisek