Coronavirus update, Oct. 21, 2021: Czech Republic to require restaurant checks and masks at work

Plus: Covid tests will no longer be free, quarantine time shortened, court rejects complaint about Covid antibody recognition. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 21.10.2021 09:59:00 (updated on 21.10.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Restaurants must verify guests' Covid status

As of Nov. 1, bars and restaurants in the Czech Republic will be required to verify a patron's clean bill of health before serving them. The checks won't be made upon entry but once guests are seated. The obligation does not apply to those ordering take-away meals, nor will it be required of restaurants in the food courts of shopping centers, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said.

Restaurant personnel will be banned from allowing entry or providing services to anyone who does not have an electronic or paper certificate proving either their complete vaccination, recent Covid infection, or a valid negative Covid test. If a guest refuses to submit proof, the police or the public health office may intervene, Vojtěch said, adding that a patron would face punishment for submitting a fake document.  

Certificates of vaccination, illness or a valid test are already being checked upon entrance to performances and swimming pools, for instance. However, restaurants and other catering establishments have not yet been required to do so.

Respirators will be required in all indoor spaces

Czech lawmakers also decided that respirators will be obligatory in all indoor premises including workplaces as of Oct. 25, making an exception for those people who work in an office alone. Respirators will also be required at indoor mass events regardless of the number of participants. Currently, the respirator duty applies to shops and public transport.

Covid tests will no longer be free

Covid tests must be paid for as of Nov. 1 and will remain free only for people under 18, those vaccinated, halfway through their vaccination, and those who cannot get jabbed due to a contraindication, Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said.

Free testing will be available for the above groups once a week for antigen tests and twice a month for PCR tests, Vojtěch said. Tests ordered by doctors or public health authorities will also remain free. The tests' prices are capped at CZK 814 for PCR and CZK 201 for antigen test apiece.

The cabinet also approved a cutting of a negative test's validity period from seven days to three for PCR tests and from 72 hours to 24 for antigen tests.

Quarantine time shortened

The cabinet approved that the quarantine of those who were in contact with a Covid-infected person will be cut from 14 to seven days as of Oct. 25, if ended by a negative PCR test, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said. The amount of time for the quarantine was criticized by parents of schoolchildren, who are required to quarantine if one of their classmates becomes infected.

Cabinet doesn’t agree over rules for schools

The cabinet failed to agree on what anti-epidemic measures should be taken in schools, and the issue is yet to be discussed in the days to come. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch proposed that the face masks be required even during lessons in classrooms in schools in the worst coronavirus-hit districts, which was strongly opposed by Education Minister Robert Plaga.

Court rejects complaint about Covid antibody recognition

The Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) rejected a proposal for canceling part of the Health Ministry’s measure that did not recognize the Covid-19 antibodies presence as proof that people are safe from infection. This means that the measure, which is no longer valid, was in accordance with the law. Unlike in the cases dealt with previously, there is no doubt why the ministry favored people vaccinated against coronavirus to those with antibodies in this case. The presence of antibodies cannot be mixed up with immunity, the court said. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch welcomed the court decision. "I hope that this decision will end this debate now," he said on Twitter.

Schools might extend autumn holidays

Principals of the schools most affected by Covid can announce director's leave on Mondays and Tuesdays, thus extending the autumn holidays for children, news server reported. "The situation from last year is starting to repeat itself," Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib said. In consultation with hygiene, the city will invite principals of critical schools to evaluate the situation. "According to this, directors can voluntarily decide whether to declare director's leave on Monday and Tuesday," Hřib added. This would apply to approximately 150 schools. Similarly, schools in the South Bohemian Region and Jihlava are already thinking about extending the holidays.

Half of Czechs saw their health worsen

 A half of Czechs saw their health condition worsen during the Covid pandemic because they did not consult their doctor over their troubles, also a half saw it worsen as a result of Covid infection and 58 percent blame the worsening on hospitals delaying planned surgeries, a Health Ministry survey has shown. According to GPs, one in three Czechs reduced their frequency of visits to GPs' offices. Up to 73 percent of people did so in fear of Covid infection. The number of preventive checkups of adults dropped by about 15 percent in 2020, statistical data show. Two-thirds of GPs believe that a delayed checkup caused a serious deterioration of the health of some of their patients.  

Over 12 million vaccination doses administered

There were 3,276 new Covid cases reported for Wednesday, up from 1,500 a week earlier and again the most since April 20. The number of hospitalized with Covid rose to 726, with 114 in serious condition. A week earlier, 462 were hospitalized with 88 serious cases. Four deaths were reported and previous figures were updated. The October toll is now 108, while all of September had 44. The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over seven days rose to 134 from 117 a day earlier. A week ago it was at 74. The reproduction number R is now at 1.65.

The total number of vaccination shots given out is now over 12 million, including booster shots. Over 6 million people are fully vaccinated. The incidence number for Prague is 153, up from 133 a day earlier. In Moravia-Silesia, which is the worst hit by the pandemic, the incidence number is 223.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Oct. 21, 2021)

  • New cases 3,276
  • Deaths to date 30,587
  • Currently hospitalized 726
  • Daily increase in PCR tests 32,793
  • Daily increase in antigen tests 41,991
  • Total vaccinations 12,001,889
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 20,564
  • Vaccinations completed 6,038,165
  • Total booster shots 73,684
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 134
  • R number 1.65
  • PES number 53
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