Britain’s top medical officer announced that the UK has identified a new variant of the coronavirus that “can spread more quickly” than prior strains of the virus. Along with the UK, the same mutation of the COVID-19 virus has also been detected in the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and the Czech Republic.
On Friday, December 18, the Czech Republic will once again return to level 4 of the PES system, which means that restrictions will be tightened. This was decided by the House of Commons on December 14; shortly after the restrictions were initially released. Despite that, stores will remain open. Some politicians and experts are worried that Czechs will actually have to spend this Christmas on level 5 of the PES system.
The Czech House of Commons approved another extension of the state of emergency – this time until December 23. Besides that, drinking outdoors is prohibited as the government wants to stop crowds of people consuming food and beverages from gathering at Christmas markets and on streets. This, however, doesn’t affect only stalls at the markets but also dispensing windows.
The Czech Republic will not raise its PES score despite the number of new COVID-19 cases slowly growing again, which would lead to the reintroduction of some countermeasures. The only changes that the Czech Republic will see as a result of the epidemiological situation getting worse, are the restrictions on opening hours of restaurants as well as some other minor measures.
On Thursday, December 3 more of the COVID-19 restrictions will be released in accordance with the PES system as decided by the Czech government on Sunday, November 29. Possibly the biggest changes relate to opening stores and restaurants, though the limit on the number of people at stores remains in place. At the same time, the Minister of Health suggested another extension of the state of emergency.
The Czech government decided to extend the state of emergency up until December 12. The state of emergency was already extended on October 30 until November 20 to continue reducing the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading. At the same time, the government approved releasing some of the previously introduced restrictions.
From Wednesday, November 18, the government introduced a limit on the number of people present in stores at the same time to further decrease the number of new COVID-19 cases. This was decided by the government on Monday, November 16, after photos of stores like Lidl being packed with people started circulating on social media. At the same time, opening hours of stores were extended to 9:00 PM so everyone would be able to do their grocery shopping.
The Czech government has introduced a so-called PES system (“Protiepidemický systém” for long and also “dog” in Czech) – a guide for releasing the restrictions introduced to combat the coronavirus pandemic. This plan uses five different levels and a score ranging from 1 to 100 to describe the current epidemiological situation in Czechia. In accordance with the levels and the score, the current restrictions will be either released or – if the situation starts getting worse again – tightened.
On Monday, November 9, new restrictions on travelling to the country came into effect. The Czech Republic has thus joined other EU countries that have also introduced the so-called Coronavirus Traffic Light System mapping the epidemiological situation in the European Union. All EU countries are marked orange, majority of them are, however, marked red.
On October 30, the Czech government extended the state of emergency up until November 20. The state of emergency was approved on October 5 because of the worsening coronavirus epidemic in the Czech Republic and was originally supposed to be in effect for 30 days. Two governmental parties – ANO and ČSSD – proposed extension of the state of emergency until December 3 but this motion was not passed.