In response to the South African mutation of COVID-19 being detected in the Czech Republic earlier this week the Czech government is planning to introduce several countermeasures or a stricter curfew. These new restrictions mostly concern freedom of movement. While it is not yet clear whether the Chamber of Deputies approves them in the first place, they should supposedly come into effect on Monday, March 1.
Negative Development of the Situation
This week the highly contagious South African mutation of COVID-19 was detected in a kindergarten in Brno and the number of people infected with COVID-19 in the whole country is continuously rising. Because of this negative development of the situation, the Czech government announced that new restrictions would have to be introduced. On Thursday, February 25, members of the government specified the countermeasures though none of them were approved that day. Another meeting of the Chamber of Deputies is taking place on Friday, February 26, however, the government doesn’t seem to have any support from opposition parties, and some journalists claim the atmosphere is tense. It is therefore possible that they will reach no conclusion that day.
New Tighter Restrictions
It is not yet certain whether the newly announced restrictions will be approved by the Chamber of Deputies. If the restrictions are approved, though, it is expected they would come into effect on Monday, March 1. This is mostly because the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO party) wants to extend the state of emergency, which is about to expire.
The new restrictions would likely include:
- Ban on travelling between Regions;
- Longer curfew;
- Preschools and first grades of schools being closed;
- More restrictions on retail and services.
The Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) also suggests that only one person per household should be allowed to go shopping. According to ČSSD’s press department, the party also doesn’t have a problem with the industry in the country being halted for the duration of the state of emergency.
The restrictions may be even harsher, though. For example, the Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček wants to impose restrictions on movement to one kilometre from the place of residence. This restriction would supposedly apply only to sports and recreational activities.
Ban on Travelling
On Wednesday, February 24, the government also introduced a ban on travelling to countries, those countries are as follows:
- South Africa;
- Tanzania (including Zanzibar and Pemba);
- Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Later members of the government, however, specified that people will be allowed to travel there, but will be probably facing some sanctions unless they have a substantial reason for travelling. Those who have substantial reasons for visiting one of these countries will have to notify the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to leaving the Czech Republic.
This restriction on travelling was introduced after a few cases of the South African mutation was detected in the Czech Republic leading to people who had previously visited Zanzibar.
Another change is that due to the new highly contagious mutation being detected, the mandatory quarantine will be extended to 14 days again. Currently, the quarantine lasts 10 days.
Besides that, it was also recently announced that as of Monday, March 1, people will be allowed in stores only when wearing a respirator. This means that two face masks are no longer considered sufficient.