Breaking: New Czech anti-COVID-19 measures to close restaurants, pubs, and schools; alcohol banned in public

Members of the Czech government unveiled stricter measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 at a press conference this evening

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 12.10.2020 22:11 (updated on 13.10.2020)

Following an emergency meeting of the Czech government which began this afternoon and ended late Monday evening, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš announced a new series of measures to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the Czech Republic.

The new measures include the closure of pubs and restaurants and the lower grades of primary schools, the implementation of new mask-wearing measures, and a ban on public alcohol consumption.

The new measures will take effect from Wednesday, October 14.

"We have only one attempt that must be successful in order to manage the epidemic as a nation this time as well," the PM said, adding that the new measures could be repealed if the seven-day reproduction number drops below 0.8.

As of October 14, all restaurants and pubs in the Czech Republic must close their doors to patrons. They may still operate on a delivery and takeaway basis. However, takeaway windows can only operate until 8 p.m.

Additional measures are aimed at preventing people from gathering in public. Those include a limit on group sizes to a maximum of six people.

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A prohibition on drinking alcohol in public locations has been tweeted by an account linked to Health Minister Roman Prymula. Directly asked about this measure at the press conference, Prymula stated that pubs and restaurants would be barred from selling alcohol on a takeaway basis.

Additionally, the requirement to wear a face mask will be extended to all train, tram, and bus stations.

These measures will last through the end of the current state of emergency on November 3. By that date, they will be reevaluated and extended, modified, or repealed, presuming the state of emergency is also extended.

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"We don't have a year ahead of us, we don't have a month. The measures must take effect within fourteen days. No one expected that the acceleration from last week would be as fast it is," Prymula stated.

All schools with the exception of kindergartens will switch to distance learning, if they have not already done so. The new measures override a previous system for primary schools that would alternate students in groups between distance learning and classroom education.

The measures regarding schools will last through November 1.

"If we do nothing, we risk an uncontrolled spread of the virus. We can't agree with that," said Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, who added that police would monitor the compliance with the new measures but it was up to the public to follow them.

“Go to work, if necessary. Go shopping, otherwise stay at home."

Last Thursday, the Czech government announced a series of measures that closed gyms, pools, cinemas, theaters, museums, galleries in the country, with some of those measures taking effect immediately and the rest going into effect today.

The tighter measures come after the Czech Republic reported a record surge in COVID-19 cases last week, culminating in an all-time high of 8,615 COVID-19 cases on Friday.

With about 433 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days, the Czech Republic is currently the most-affected state in the European Union, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

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