Czech Republic coronavirus updates, Nov. 26: Officials warn shops may not reopen Monday, even if cases decline

Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček said Christmas shouldn't be the same this year.

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro
Published on 26.11.2020 08:49 (updated on 26.11.2020)

Czech residents should expect a different Christmas this year as the country continues to fight the virus, Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček told iDnes.

The report comes amid a continuing gradual decrease of new COVID-19 cases each day. According to the latest data provided by the Czech Health Ministry this morning, the Czech Republic reported 2,678 new cases on Wednesday, a much lower number than the more than 5,000 new cases on Tuesday.

However, the Czech Republic continues to conduct fewer and fewer tests. On Tuesday, the country conducted 22,241 tests, significantly less of the usual number of tests performed during the week when the country experienced the peak of the second wave. The number of tests performed on Wednesday will be revealed tomorrow.

In light of these numbers, officials are warning Czech residents not to expect the same Christmas as last year or the year before. Smaller Christmas markets may operate, but under strict guidelines.

"We do not recommend Christmas markets. If they already open, then a specific regime will apply to them. For example, every second stand is occupied with a minimum spacing of four meters. At the same time, the sale of snacks for consumption on the spot will be prohibited," said Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček.

He added that residents should not expect the same traditional Mikuláš this year, as in years past. "I personally would be careful and I would recommend skipping Mikuláš for this year," Havlíček said.

In addition to Christmas traditions, officials are also warning that some shops and services may actually not reopen on Monday as earlier reported. The Czech Deputy PM and Central Crisis Staff (UKS) head Jan Hamáček (CSSD) told reporters on Wednesday that the current COVID situation in the Czech Republic is not stable enough to say if the government will lift some lockdown restrictions next Monday.

The cabinet has been debating whether to open all retail shops and plans to have an emergency meeting on Sunday. According to them, the decision will depend on the situation in the days to come. The PES level has not been decreasing as fast as all we would like, Hamáček said. 

Hamáček also said at a press conference that the broad use of COVID antigen tests before Christmas would require massive mobilization and that firefighters are ready to assist with mobile sampling centers.

Since March, the Czech Republic has now reported a total of 505,215 COVID-19 cases, the majority of which were reported in September and October. Of those, there have been 417,657 recoveries, with 79,947 known active cases.

There are currently 5,413 COVID-19 patients in Czech hospitals, with 815 of those in serious condition. Both those numbers have been steadily decreasing as well.

The most-affected localities in the Czech Republic over the past two weeks continues to be Havlíčkův Brod, which has reported about 581 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, and Svitavy, with about 487 cases per 100,000 residents in that span.

The Czech Republic is no longer the most affected state in the EU; the country now ranks far below countries like Austria, Poland and Croatia, with about 682 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

However, the Czech Republic still continues to have one of the highest death rates in Europe in COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people at 20.4.

These numbers have led Bloomberg to name the Czech Republic as one of the worst countries in the world for dealing with COVID-19. Bloomberg agency's Covid Resilience Ranking placed the Czech Republic as fifth in the world because of their number of new infections each month and numbers of deaths as well as the economic impact of measures taken to fight the virus.