New Czech anti-COVID-19 measures to affect operation of gyms, cinemas, restaurants, schools, and more

The new measures, to go into effect from Monday, will affect the operation of schools, shops, restaurants and other venues

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 08.10.2020 16:02 (updated on 08.10.2020)

Given the rapid surge in COVID-19 cases in the Czech Republic, new measures to curb the spread of the virus in the country have been announced at a press conference this afternoon.

The measures were previously intended to be announced Friday, but moved up a day earlier following an extraordinary meeting of the Czech government this afternoon.

"We have decided to reduce leisure activities drastically for 14 days, and practically freeze them," Prymula told journalists.

"We need to limit the number of people who meet outside the family," Prymula said. 

The new measures largely affect leisure and cultural activities, and the operation of related businesses. Some measures will go into effect immediately, from midnight tonight, while others will take effect from Monday, October 12.

From Friday, October 9, indoor swimming pools, gyms, and fitness centers must close.

Also from tomorrow, restaurants and pubs must close by 8 p.m. Previous measures had limited the operation of restaurants until 10 p.m. at the latest. Additionally, tables may have a maximum of four guests.

From Monday, October 12, all theaters, cinemas, and other venues organizing cultural events must halt their operation.

"From Monday, all cultural events, theaters, cinemas will be closed," Prymula stated.

Zoos are also among the venues which must temporarily close from Monday.

Indoor events will be limited to 10 people, and outdoor events to 20.

Professional team sports events will also be put on hold, with the exception of international matches; those may take place, but only without spectators.

Amateur sport events may take place, but only at outdoor locations.

Also from Monday, public offices will restrict their operations to two days per week. They will be open for five hours per day on dates they are open.

The new restrictions will last for a period of two weeks. At that point, they may be either extended or relaxed.

At the same press conference, Education Minister Robert Plaga announced a series of measures that will affect the operation of schools from Monday, October 12 and for at least two weeks after that date.

Lower grades (first stage) of primary schools will continue to operate as they have been. After-school groups will also remain open.

Upper grades (second stage) of primary schools will split time between in-school education and distance learning. Students will be separated into two groups, A and B, and Group A will go into classes as normal for one week while Group B takes part in distance learning. After one week, the two groups will switch.

Secondary schools and universities across the country will all switch to distance learning if they have not already done so, with the exception of practical classes where in-class education is necessary.

Additionally, Plaga will reorganize the school year to give two additional days off on Monday, October 26 and Tuesday, October 27. October 28 is a national holiday.

Wi-Fi internet access at shopping centers will also be limited to discourage children from congregating at these locations.

According to Prymula, the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization could double within a week if drastic measures are not taken.

"Within the next week, the capacity of the health system could be almost exhausted," the Health Minister stated.

"The number of people who require essential intensive care is growing rapidly. The number of deaths is also constantly increasing."

When asked about face masks, Prymula stated that while no new mask regulations would go into affect at the moment, he recommended wearing a mask whenever and wherever possible.

Prymula also announced that it will be possible for positive COVID-19 patients to quarantine at hotels rather than risk exposing family members at home; the hotel quarantine will be voluntary, and the Health Minister thanked local hotels for offering the use of their space to the government for this purpose.

This is a developing story; we will update as more information becomes available.