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Czech Republic reintroduces restrictions after virus cases surge

Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Republic is re-introducing a number of anti-coronavirus measures after a sudden surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent days.

Following an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech announced that face-masks will, once more, be required for events of more than 100 people, while indoor social and cultural gatherings will be limited to 500 people (compared to 1,000 today).

Rules for wearing face-masks in public transport remain unchanged for now, and are only mandatory in the metro in Prague and public transport in the hardest-hit regions, including in the country’s north-east. Masks will not be required in trams, buses or shopping centres.

The new measures should take effect at midnight on Saturday.

Health Minister Vojtech also announced that the government will release a country-wide map to identify and pin-point risk and infection levels across the Czech Republic.

“The increase in numbers is certainly there – that is indisputable”, Vojtech said at a press conference earlier this week. “So we are consulting the situation with epidemiologists. It may be that we will need to bring back some nation-wide restrictions, like compulsory masks in enclosed spaces.”

The Minister of Health however tried to strike a reassuring tone: “Nothing on the scale that was previously introduced; we are not thinking of restricting freedom of movement or closing down businesses; nothing that would disrupt people’s lives; just preventive measures”.

The sudden rise in new cases, which exceeded 200 per day this week, is largely due to local outbreaks, including in Moravia-Silesia, Liberec and Usti nad Labem, as well as in Prague, where at least 100 people became infected with COVID-19 at a nightclub.

The Czech Republic currently has more than 5,000 active confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, the highest since the start of the epidemic in March.

Main photo credit: Petr Topič, MAFRA

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