Czech epidemiologists: Forget about New Year's Eve parties, Christmas visits this year

According to Czech experts, restaurants and large shopping centers should remain closed until 2021, holiday visits limited.

James Fassinger

Written by James Fassinger Published on 12.11.2020 11:15 (updated on 12.11.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

Unless there is a significant improvement in the epidemiological situation, strict measures must be maintained during the upcoming Christmas holidays, epidemiologists, scientists and doctors told iDNES.cz. According to them, the government should not bow to public pressure and ease the current restrictions. They emphasized that New Year's Eve celebrations in clubs should be forgotten and bars should not open until 2021.

Experts say shopping malls like Palladium in Prague's center should remain closed during the holiday season. (photo:  Jason Pirodsky - Expats.com)
Experts say shopping malls like Palladium in Prague's center should remain closed during the holiday season. (photo: Jason Pirodsky - Expats.com)

"I think that at the end of the year, basic anti-epidemic measures will still have to remain in force. They should only be relaxed only in the case that the number of new cases in the second half of December would fall to the same low level as they were at the end of June," said immunologist Václav Hořejší.

At that time, there were more than 250 infected people a day throughout the country. "I hope that the government will not succumb to public pressure again and will not loosen it all up again and start a third wave," Hořejší warns. According to him, all restaurants and large shopping centers should definitely remain closed at least until 2021.

Prague's Palladium shopping mall is usually packed with holiday shoppers this time of year, now, due to the restrictions, it is empty. (photo:  Jason Pirodsky - Expats.com)
Prague's Palladium shopping mall is usually packed with holiday shoppers this time of year, now, due to the restrictions, it is empty. (photo: Jason Pirodsky - Expats.com)

The president of the Czech Medical Chamber Milan Kubek holds a similar opinion. "I'm afraid Christmas, as we were used to, will not happen this year. We've already lost that. We introduced anti-epidemic measures too ate and in too relaxed. Although the epidemic has slowed down, the end will take a long time, "said Kubek.

People should forget holiday visits

According to the president of the Czech Medical Chamber, to loosen restrictions, "There would have to be less than 1,000 new cases a day, positive tests less than 5 percent and a reproduction number below 0.8," Kubek explained.

"If more than 1,300 people died last week, we can hardly expect shopping centers to open in a month and buy gifts there," Kubek added. Although Christmas visits to families do not violate current measures, according to him, common sense dictates that people forget them this year.

On the other hand, epidemiologist Milan Tuček from the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology of the 1st Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and the General Hospital in Prague does not agree with keeping the shops closed before Christmas. "If a hypermarket is open in shopping malls today, I see no reason not to open small shops where sellers will regulate the number of visitors, similar to a butcher's shop," he says.

However, according to Tuček, people can forget about New Year's Eve celebrations in bars this year. “The restaurant should be open until 22:00, but exclusively for food. The tables should have to be spaced farther apart and alcohol would only be served with food," added Tuček.

An empty Palladium during the holiday shopping season. According to epidemiologist Milan Tuček,
An empty Palladium during the holiday shopping season. According to epidemiologist Milan Tuček, "If a hypermarket is open in shopping malls today, I see no reason not to open small shops where sellers will regulate the number of visitors, similar to a butcher's shop." (photo: Jason Pirodsky - Expats.com)

Jiří Beran, a vaccinologist and director of the Vaccination and Travel Medicine Center, came up with his own solution. According to him, restrictive measures should focus only on the most vulnerable population - seniors over 65 years of age. According to him, they should always wear masks and undergo regular preventive testing for Covid-19.

The ministry does not want to speculate on Christmas

The Ministry of Health does not want to speculate too much about the measures during Christmas. "Any events related to St. Nicholas, the Christmas holidays and New Year's Eve celebrations will take place according to the measures that will be in force at the time. They will depend on the current epidemiological situation that will exist in the Czech Republic at the time. It is currently not possible to predict it at this time, "said Klára Doláková, a spokeswoman for the ministry, when asked by iDNES.cz.

On Friday, the Czech Republic will begin the new (PES) anti-epidemic system, which will determine the regulation of measures according to the severity and spread of the disease. On Friday, the table according to which the loosening or stregthening of anti-coronavirus measures should be governed will be discussed by the Government Council for Health Risks.

Minister of Health Jan Blatný stated last week that the measures will be divided into five levels of risk development of the epidemic. The condition will be assessed according to the occurrence of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, the incidence of infection among the elderly, the reproductive number and the share of positive tests in their total number.

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