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Czech Republic bans all non-essential travel for foreigners

Prague, Czech Republic – On Friday, the Czech government has banned all non-essential travel for foreigners to the Czech Republic.

The announcement was made on Friday by the Czech Foreign Ministry on Twitter, and came into force at midnight. According to the measure, all non-essential travel of foreigners to the Czech Republic has been banned regardless of the country (green, orange or red in the traffic light system) people are travelling from.

Exceptions apply for foreigners coming to work or study in the Czech Republic, and the ban doesn’t apply for trips to visit relatives, medical facilities or care homes, working trips and trips to attend weddings or funerals.

Czech authorities announced they would conduct random checks at the borders to verify whether visitors have a PCR test result and a valid reason to travel to the Czech Republic.

“It will be up to border police to evaluate and determine whether [the reason] is credible and whether it is justified,” police spokesman Ondrej Moravcik said.

Although the Foreign Ministry later tried to clarify that this was simply a confirmation of the measures in place since December, the new travel restrictions, meant to curb the rapid spread of the virus, explicitly “prohibit the stay of foreigners in the Czech Republic” from Saturday other than for the stated exceptions.

The main change lies in the fact that these restrictions apply regardless of which country people are coming from. In effect, only a handful of European countries were not already categorized as red or “high-risk”, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Austria and Greece.

The move sparked a wave of anger and frustration on social media, where users slammed the Czech government for making the surprise announcement with only a few hours’ notice before coming into force.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.