Coronavirus update, March 1, 2021: Border closures not ruled out as Czech Republic begins lockdown

Exactly one year since the Czech Republic reported its first coronavirus cases, the number of active cases hits a record. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 01.03.2021 09:46:00 (updated on 01.03.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Tougher rules take effect, people urged to stay home

Restrictions on the free movement of people in the Czech Republic took effect Monday, March 1 and will last three weeks to curb the coronavirus epidemic. In the built-up area of cities, it will be mandatory to wear at least a medical mask, respirator or other similarly effective protective device. In the most risky places, such as shops or public transport. Wearing respirators will be obligatory at work as well as of March 1, with the exception of people working in one room alone. Most remaining schools and daycare have closed, with some exceptions, for example, for employees of the integrated rescue system, critical workers in infrastructure, security forces, and other selected professions.

It is forbidden to leave one's district of permanent residence or domicile, without a fundamental reason, such as a trip to work or to a doctor. Only necessary trips, such as shopping, and trips to nature and sports, will be allowed. Trips can only be with members of one household and in the municipality in which a person has a permanent residence or domicile. The government has also reduced exemptions for retail shops and services. The rules for restaurants and other catering establishments will not change and they will still be allowed to provide take-away sales. Read the complete details here.

Babiš: Mandatory COVID testing in firms may start March 5

The Czech government today will debate a proposal for mandatory testing for COVID-19 in firms with over 250 employees as of March 5, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told CNN Prima News TV. Firms violating this duty could face a fine of up to CZK 500,000, under the draft. The testing duty is to apply to firms with 50 to 250 employees as of March 12, public Czech Television reported, referring to Deputy PM and Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček.

No date has been set for mandatory testing for firms with up to 50 employees, but it could be required later. "In my opinion, all should test their people, even the smallest ones," said Babiš on TV. Employees would face a fine of CZK 50,000 for refusal to get tested, he added. Firms that will not meet the conditions of wearing protective devices and testing employees, should be closed, Babiš said.

Vaccination registration opens for people over 70

Over a million people can join another coronavirus vaccination from March 1. The vaccine should be given to seniors over 70 years of age. People in a poor state of health will not be given priority. General practitioners should also become in vaccination. Registration of teachers began Feb. 27. The two groups were launched on different days to prevent the online registration system from being overwhelmed.

General practitioners should focus on vaccinating patients over 80 who have not already been vaccinated, according to Health Minister Jan Blatný. Practitioners will also be able to vaccinate people under the age of 70 who are at risk of a serious disease, if the doctror considered them at same or higher risk than a normal 70-year-old.

Mandatory quarantine extended to 14 days

The mandatory quarantine period for people with a positive coronavirus test and for those who came into contact with them is being extended from10 to 14 days as of today. This is due to the spread of more contagious coronavirus mutations. Also from today, people who have already received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine do not have to quarantine after contact with an infected person, if at least 14 days have passed since the second dose. They must have a vaccination certificate or the data must be recorded in the central system. They must also not have symptoms of the disease after contact with the infected person.

Quarantine bonus to be proposed again

Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Jana Maláčová intends to send a proposal for a special bonus for quarantined people back to Parliament. It failed to gain backing in the Chamber of Deputies by a single vote on Friday, when the new state of emergency was declared. Maláčová said people in quarantine should receive up to CZK 370 a day in addition to sick pay, while companies would deduct it from state contributions. It should motivate employees not to avoid quarantine.

Babiš: Government to discuss closing the borders

Restrictions could get even tougher at Easter if the three-week lockdown does not improve the coronavirus situation in the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told CNN Prima on Sunday. He did not rule out closing the Czech border, and said the government would debate the idea again on Monday. Last year at Easter, rules were relaxed. "There were huge crowds in the shops, but fortunately there was no transmission. But now the virus is completely different," Babiš said, calling on people to stay as home as possible in the coming weeks.  

One year since first confirmed cases

The first three confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Czech Republic occurred a year ago on Feb. 29, 2020. Two people tested positively in the Prague’s Na Bulovce Hospital and one in the Masaryk Hospital in Ústí nad Labem, north Bohemia. Two were Czech new, and one was a U.S. student. All of them had recently been in Italy before returning to the Czech Republic. One has been at a conference and the other two on vacation.

Number of active cases hits a record

Tests on Sunday revealed another 4,557 coronavirus infections, which was 496 more than on the Sunday, Feb 21, and the highest Sunday increase since Jan 3. The PES index was at 79 for the second day in a row. The R number, showing how many people each infected person spreads the virus to, fell to 1.15 from 1.19 on Saturday. Currently, 7,049 people are hospitalized. The number of severe cases is at 1,507, some 200 more than a week ago. A total of 148,960 people are infected with COVID-19, which is the most during the entire epidemic.

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (March 1, 2021)

  • Active cases 148,960
  • New cases 4,557
  • Deaths 20,469
  • Currently hospitalized 7,049
  • PCR tests performed 5,372,614
  • Antigen tests performed 2,694,526
  • Reported vaccinations 653,206
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