During the Christmas holidays, the Czech Republic returned to level 5 of the so-called PES system. Since level 5 is the highest level, the strictest countermeasures possible are currently in effect. These restrictions apply mostly to stores, some services, freedom of movement, or studying, for example. They should supposedly remain in place until January 10 but there is a chance their validity will be further extended.
Possibly the strictest countermeasures affect the freedom of movement and gatherings of people as it is allowed to stay in public places only for the time that is necessarily needed (for example for shopping etc). Otherwise, it is necessary that people spend as much time at home as possible.
Related to this restriction, only up to two people can meet in public spaces unless they are:
- Members of the same household;
- Employees working for the same employer;
- Persons jointly performing business or other similar activity;
- Persons jointly performing activities that are required by law and they have to be performed in bigger groups of people;
- Children, pupils, and students at schools (in accordance with the restrictions on studying that are currently in place).
Night curfew is in place from 9 PM to 5 AM, though there are some exceptions related to work, travel to a doctor for necessary medical treatments, and so on.
In accordance with the PES system and the latest restrictions, stores and services have to remain closed unless they fall into some of the exceptions – for example, grocery stores, drug stores, etc. Supermarkets can only sell a basic range of goods such as food, hygienic products, and so on. The restriction on the number of people present in stores at one time (that is one person per 15 square meters) remains in place. Restaurants and hotels must also remain closed, although it is allowed to sell food and beverages through dispensing windows.
Employers are obligated to let their employees work from home at least in those cases where it is possible given the nature of their job. It is also recommended that employers limit the performance of work activities of their employees that are not essential for the functioning of the company or institution.
Wearing face masks or respirators is mandatory in all public places, both indoor and outdoor spaces. Besides this, schools switched to distance learning with only the first three grades being the exception.
Though these restrictions should supposedly remain in effect until January 10, it is expected that their validity will be further extended due to the high number of daily new cases of COVID-19 which, despite the restrictions, keeps rising. Currently, over 50% of all people tested for the virus come out as positive.
Vaccination Against COVID-19
The pandemic should, according to experts, die down thanks to vaccination which is now available also in the Czech Republic. For now, only certain groups of people can get vaccinated, however, from mid-January all people over the age of 80 will be allowed to register for the vaccination. People below the age of 80 will be able to register from February 1. Some groups of people will be prioritized, though – mostly people with comorbidities such as diabetes, obesity, or severe lung or kidney diseases. Other criteria will be working either for social services, in the medical field, education, and so on.