Just in: Czech govt. to toughen anti-COVID measures, authorities stress minimal contact

Due to the rising number of cases and Czech hospitals on the brink of capacity, new rules go into effect from Saturday.


Written by ČTK Published on 28.01.2021 21:56:00 (updated on 28.01.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Czech Republic will toughen COVID-19 lockdown rules due to the worsening epidemiological situation, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček told the press Thursday night following a government meeting.

The government cannot afford to underestimate the current situation due to the spread of the new, more infectious mutation of the virus, Hamáček said, calling on everyone to observe the measures.

"Last spring, we had no one in hospitals. Thanks to resolute steps, we managed it," he said.

The circumstances were similar at the beginning of autumn during the second wave, he added, saying that the same does not hold true for the start of this year. Now the number of new cases has started slightly rising again just as hospitals are at risk of becoming overcrowded.

"We cannot afford to underestimate the situation as we are perhaps in the most difficult situation when it comes to hospital capacities," Hamáček said.

As far as particular measures are concerned, stricter rules will be applied to accommodation services which should only be used by people on business trips, not their family members, the government decided.

Those interested in an overnight stay will need to present a written confirmation issued by their employer or those who ordered the service in the case of tradespeople, Hamáček said. The providers of accommodation services will be required to keep these confirmations.

People may visit their holiday homes or cottages, but only members of a single household may stay there.

Ski lifts and cableways in the mountains may not be used by either skiers nor hikers. Only members of the integrated emergency system will be allowed to use them, the government said.

The government has renewed the ban on visits to patients in acute care beds, Health Minister Jan Blatný said. An exception will be made for the presence of a third person at births or visits to hospitalized children.

In driving schools, both teachers and students will be required to use the FFP2 class respirators. Driving lessons may, however, continue, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček said.

In addition, all farmer's markets must close. The new restrictions go into effect Saturday.

New restrictions at a glance

  • Farmer's markets must close.
  • Business trips with families members are not allowed; written confirmation required.
  • Driving school instructors and students must wear FFP2 respirators.
  • Renewed ban on visits to patients in acute care beds.
  • Ski lifts and cableways in the mountains may not be used by either skiers nor hikers.
  • Only members of one family may stay in cottages or holiday residences.

The government did not set down any parameters with regards to the distance people can travel from their place of residence. But Hamáček said such measures could not be ruled out for districts or regions in the future.

Blatný said that families who do not live together should not meet. "One has to stress the minimization of contact," he said. Long-distance trips are not recommended he added.

Blatný did not propose the introduction of changes to the PES anti-epidemic system. This will only be considered after there are 3,000-4,000 people with COVID in the hospital, he said. As of Wednesday, 5,925 were hospitalized.

"The situation is untenable. Another decrease must be achieved. Another worsening would overload the hospitals that are already on the brink of it," Blatný said.

The country's PES system infection risk score has been on the fourth degree of five in for two weeks now, but the lockdown has stayed on the highest fifth alert level for a month.

The police will monitor the observance of anti-COVID rules. However, due to their limited capacities, they will not be going from house to house, but rather focus on excessive violations and behavior instead, Hamáček told reporters.

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