Prague, Czech Republic- Largely spared by the first wave of COVID-19 in the spring, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have both re-introduced a state of national emergency to try to stem the spread of the virus as cases soar.
The state of emergency has come into force in the Czech Republic on Monday for a period of one month, enabling authorities to introduce special measures.
Health Minister Roman Prymula assured that the government was not planning to introduce a nation-wide lockdown as it did in March, but warned that tighter restrictions could be implemented if citizens failed to respect the current sanitary rules and social distancing guidelines and if the number of cases kept increasing.
Starting Monday, secondary schools located in high-risk areas – including the capital Prague – will close for a period of at least two weeks.
Indoor and outdoor events are now limited to ten and twenty people, respectively.
The state of emergency will also facilitate the purchase of protective medical equipment, while allowing medical students to work in hospitals to help with the growing number of cases and hospitalizations throughout the Czech Republic.
Some 1,200 people are currently hospitalized with the virus in the Czech Republic, with around 245 of them deemed to be in serious condition.
The restrictive measures should be reviewed and possibly revised in ten days, Prymula said. The Health Minister, recently appointed following the surprise resignation of his predecessor, further announced that a long-term plan to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic will be unveiled on Friday, October 9, examining a set of dozens of possible measures to be introduced depending on how the epidemiological situation unfolds.
The Czech Republic is following in the footsteps of neighbouring Slovakia, where a state of emergency has come into force last Thursday for a period of 45 days.
As in the Czech Republic, Slovakia’s state of emergency doesn’t mean a return to a strict lockdown, and for now only entails stricter rules for public gatherings and the wearing of face-masks.
Main photo credit: Official Twitter account of Andrej Babis