Czech Republic coronavirus updates: Dec. 18, 2020: New lockdown rules go into effect from today

Criticism has been leveled against for the government for its exemptions which some say are arbitrary.


Written by ČTK Published on 18.12.2020 08:43:00 (updated on 18.12.2020) Reading time: 2 minutes

New lockdown measures are taking effect across the country today as the Czech Republic moves from the third to the fourth coronavirus risk level due to the worsening epidemiological situation.

While the latest measures include a curfew from 11 pm to 5 am and the closure of pubs, restaurants, fitness centers, swimming pools, and indoor sports venues, a number of exemptions have been granted by the government.

Those exemptions include a curfew waiver for those attending midnight mass (only one fifth of church seats can be occupied) as well as the decision to allow shops to remain open despite the fact that non-essential shops would typically close under the fourth level.

Museums and galleries must also close under the fourth level, however, the culture ministry has allowed certain art institutions whose collections include foreign artifacts on temporary loan, to remain open.

Hotels will once again be banned from providing accommodation for recreation purposes. Dining establishments may opertate take-away services.

Some ski lifts in the mountains will start operating as of today minus accommodation and refreshment kiosks.

No exceptions have been made for New Year's Eve parties; gatherings of up to 6 people are permitted and people may still visit friends and family members in senior homes, but must first submit a negative test. Up to 20 people may participate in weddings and funeral services. 

Friday, Dec. 18 sees schools breaking for the holidays two days early. Originally, students were to attend school Monday, Dec. 21 and Tuesday, Dec. 22, however the Education Ministry prolonged the holidays due to the epidemic.

Universities and kindergartens will operate on Monday and Tuesday, but according to the fourth level of the anti-epidemic system PES.

Criticism has been leveled against Czech leaders for their seemingly arbitrary exemptions with the opposition calling on Health Minister Blatny to publish the risk index.

Opposition lawmakers argue that the risk index is much higher for supermarkets, which remain open, than for fitness centers, museums, and galleries. The risk of the infection spread is negligible there if all sanitary rules are observed, they say.

The Czech government said it would seek a 30-day extension of the current state of emergency. At a meeting on Dec. 22 it will discuss prolonging the emergency state, valid until Dec. 23, to Jan. 22.

Blanket antigen started taking place across the Czech Republic this week with an estimated 209,803 scheduled for testing according to data from the Smart Quarantine project. The COVID vaccine is due to arrive in the Czech Republic by Christmas; front line workers will be among the first vaccinated.

As the country moves to the fourth level on the coronavirus risk index of the PES epidemic system, the risk score has reached 76 points on the 0-100 scale in the Czech Republic reflecting the fifth degree, according to data released by the Health Ministry Friday morning.

A majority of the country's 14 regions face the fifth risk degree (76-100). In some regions the index has climbed to 81. The risk score is still lowest in Prague at 59 which corresponds to the third risk level.

There are currently 72,781 active cases of coronavirus in the Czech Republic with 7,590 new cases reported on Wednesday. On Thursday, the death toll surpassed 10,000; according to the latest data from the health ministry's website the number of deaths has reached 10,163. An estimated 4,617 people are hospitalized and the total number of cases to date is 610,006.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more