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.
Limits on the Number of People Present in Stores
Thegovernment decided the number of people present in stores at one time will be reduced to 1 person per 15 square metres. In order to make sure everyone will be able to do their grocery shopping, the stores will be allowed to close at 9:00 PM. Until Wednesday they had to close at 8:00 PM. The Minister of Health, Jan Blatný, assured that this would not be a problem despite the night curfew (which starts at 9:00 PM) being still in effect.
Despite that it is expected that a lot of people would have to wait in queues for about an hour before being allowed to enter the store. The decision to reduce the number of shoppers was criticized by many including the President of the Trade and Tourism Union, Tomáš Prouza, who claims that about 20% – 30% of people wouldn’t be able to enter the store at all. Other reasons why this restriction was criticized is so-called “panic shopping” and the fact that people will move around different stores to find some in which they could do their shopping. All of these things could actually achieve the opposite effect than was intended and contribute to the COVID-19 spreading to even more people.
From Wednesday, restaurants will be allowed to sell meals through dispensing windows from 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Besides this, up to 15 people will be allowed to attend weddings, funerals and church services and two people will be allowed to exercise outdoors.
Some Restrictions Will be Released
Last week the PES system created for releasing COVID-19 restrictions was introduced. In accordance with this guide, countermeasures would either be released or tightened based on the current score, with the epidemiological situation being evaluated every Wednesday. Since the score is currently 70, some restrictions could soon be released. According to the Minister of the Interior, Jan Hamáček, this would be discussed on Friday, November 20. Yet the government claims that the situation is still serious despite the decreasing number of new coronavirus cases. Some experts also criticized the decision to release restrictions pointing out that it comes too soon and that the number of new cases will soon start growing again. If this indeed happens, people living in the Czech will have to brace themselves for a dark Christmas.
On November 19 the government should discuss another extension of the state of emergency. This is required for the coronavirus restrictions to still remain in place as without the state of emergency, they’d have to be lifted.
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Sources of the information: Tiscali.cz, Novinky.cz article I, article II and article III, e15.cz
Source of the photo: pexels.com