Czech Health Minister tests positive for Covid-19

A regularly updated article with all the latest developments related to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 22.11.2021 10:00 (updated on 29.11.2021) Reading time: 22 minutes

This is a weekly overview of the latest coronavirus news for Prague and the Czech Republic. Here you'll find important developments, organized by date, and updated daily by Expats.cz as well as a live data stream taken from the Ministry of Health. A regularly updated list of restrictions can be found here.

For a more detailed breakdown of Covid hospitalization, vaccination, and mortality data for the Czech Republic, see CovData.cz.

Latest COVID Statistics

Confirmed cases on 01.12.2021: +21 126

Active cases: 292 975

Currently hospitalized: 6 561

Tests yesterday: 90 588

Vaccinations yesterday: 83 765

Confirmed cases total: 2 193 289

Recovered total: 1 866 997

Vaccinated total: 6 669 174

Tests total: 13 800 895

Deaths total: 33 317

COVID 19 - New cases for last
Data valid as of 04:55:36 02.12.2021
Source: https://onemocneni-aktualne.mzcr.cz

November 28, 2021

Daily Overview Week-on-week Covid-19 cases down for second straight day

The Czech Republic reported 12,514 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, a decrease of about ten percent compared to the previous Saturday. The week-on-week number of new cases has decrease for the second straight day after continually rising since September. The Covid-19 incidence rate, the number of new cases per 100,000 people over the past week, also dropped slightly, down to 1,191 compared to 1,209 on Friday.

The number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus has fallen under 6,000 after four days, but the number of those in the ICU continues to rise. On Saturday, there were 5,968 COVID-19 patients in Czech hospitals, less than the past few days but still about 800 more than one week ago. There are currently 948 Covid-19 patients in serious condition, about 200 more than a week ago.

16:43 Thousands protest anti-epidemic restrictions in Prague

Thousands of people protested the Czech Republic's anti-coronavirus measures in Prague's Letná plain today during a demonstration organized by Chcípl PES and other groups opposed to the ongoing restrictions. Police estimated the attendance at about 2,500-3,000 people by 1:30 p.m.

Dozens of police officers monitored today's protest. About 10,000 people took part in a previous demonstration organized by the same groups at Prague's Old Town Square on the national holiday of November 17, according to police estimates.

Participants in today's demonstration, which is slated to finish at 8:00 p.m., flew Czech flags and banners and chanted slogans such as "Freedom" and "We are fed up with [the restrictions]."

15:02 Current anti-epidemic measures to be re-assessed in 10-14 days

Outgoing Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch wants to re-assess the government's new anti-coronavirus measures in 10-14 days to gauge their effect, he said in a debate on public Czech TV today. The epidemic trend will become more clear next week, he added.

Vojtěch also said he supported the European Commission recommendation for reducing the validity of Covid-19 vaccine certificates from one year to nine months, as it would encourage people to get a booster vaccine sooner.

The Czech government declared a state of emergency in the country for 30 days from November 26 to curb the accelerating spread of Covid-19. Anti-epidemic restrictions under the state of emergency include a ban on Christmas markets, the closure of restaurants and bars from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., and a limit of 1,000 seated participants at cultural and sports events. Vojtěch said the effect of these measures can only be assessed after 10-14 days.

11:52 Czech Health Minister tests positive for Covid-19

Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch has tested positive for coronavirus, he tweeted today. Vojtěch has a mild case of Covid-19 and wants to work from home. He was tested for Covid-19 as he was recently feeling ill.

"I did not feel well from Friday to Saturday, so I decided to take PCR test on Saturday," the Health Minister tweeted.

"It unfortunately proven that I am positive [for Covid-19]. I am entering a 14-day quarantine. Thanks to the vaccination, I have a mild case and will work from home."

Vojtěch is the most recent Czech politician to test positive for Covid-19, following President Miloš Zeman on Thursday. As Zeman has appointed a new Prime Minister this morning, Vlastimil Válek is expected to succeed Vojtěch as the Czech Republic's Health Minister in mid-December.

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November 27, 2021

daily overview Week-on-week cases down for first time in two months

The Czech Republic reported 20,315 new cases on Friday, about ten percent fewer cases than the previous Friday, according to the latest data from the Czech Health Ministry. It's the first week-on-week fall in new cases in two months, since the end of September. The incidence rate, or the number of new cases per 100,000 people, also dipped slightly on Friday, down to 1,207 from 1,231 on Thursday.

The number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19, however, continues to rise. There are now 6,169 patients with Covid-19 in Czech hospitals, about 900 more than a week ago. It's also the highest number of patients since early April. The number of patients in the ICU rose by about 150 over the past week, and is now up to 924.

11:39 Czech Republic reports first suspected case of Omicron mutation

The Czech Republic has reported its first suspected case of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant, according to local media. The variant has been called "of concern" by the World Health Organization, and resulted in the Czech Republic limiting travel from eight African countries yesterday.

According to TN.cz, the variant appeared in a Czech woman who returned to Liberec after staying in Namibia. Officials are currently investigating the case and will confirm the presence of the variant by tomorrow morning.

"At the moment, one of the sequencing laboratories in the Czech Republic is verifying the possible occurrence of a positive sample of the Omicron variant within our country," State Institute of Public Health Štěpánka Čechová told TN.cz.

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"At this point, we know that we have one suspicious sample that was uncovered during a discriminatory PCR test. It appears to be the Omicron variant," Ministry of Health spokesperson Daniel Köppl told iDNES.cz.

Other European states have reported cases of the Omicron variant, and Czech neighbor Germany is also dealing with its first suspected case today.

November 26, 2021

DAILY OVERVIEW New Covid cases set another record

There were another 27,717 COVID cases on Thursday, which was another daily record since the start of the epidemic in the Czech Republic. There are 6,024 hospitalized, the most since early April, with 894 in serious condition. A week earlier, there were 5,170 hospitalized with 774 serious cases. Forty-eight deaths were reported, which will be revised. The toll had topped 100 in four out of the past seven days, and 1,780 people have died so far this month.

The incidence number of cases new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days hit 1,231, which is a record high. The reproduction number R is 1.26. For Prague, the incidence number is 1,163. In the Olomouc region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 1,718.

14:44 Police ready to start checking compliance

Police officers are ready to check for compliance with new anti-epidemic measures, which will come into force on Friday at 6 pm. The patrols will monitor the observation of opening hours and the ban on the public consumption of alcohol. Inspections will be random, and the police will also respond to information passed on by citizens, said a spokesman for the police.

14:33 Over 670 vaccinated people were infected with Covid even after third dose

Out of the vaccinated against Covid-19 after the third booster dose, 672 have gotten infected with the virus, half being of them over 65 years old, while 87 of these individuals ended up in the hospital and 17 needed intensive care, according to the Health Ministry data on the Covid vaccination as of November 25. So far, almost 737,000 people have been revaccinated with the booster jab in the Czech Republic, two-thirds of which, of the 1.26 million of the vaccinated eligible for the booster, are seniors. The Czech Vaccinology Society points out that the protection against the virus increases again up to 90 percent after the booster dose.

9:22 Travel from eight African countries restricted

From Saturday, third-country nationals who have spent more than 12 hours in the last 14 days in eight African countries – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia – will not be able to enter the Czech Republic. Citizens of the Czech Republic and the European Union as well as holders of long-term stays in the Czech Republic will be able to do so under strict epidemiological conditions. The measure is valid until Dec. 12. Outgoing Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek made the announcement on Twitter. Trips to these areas are not recommended. The Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs are hoping to prevent the spread of a new Covid variant that has been detected in South Africa.

8:30 New restrictions start today

The restrictions announced yesterday by the government along with the state of emergency take effect today (see more details in the Nov. 25 update). Christmas markets that are already open will close at 6 pm and remain closed. Pubs, restaurants, and nightclubs must be closed from 10 pm until 4.55 am the following day. A maximum of 100 people can take part in celebrations and parties. A maximum of 1,000 people can attend cultural and sporting events and must be seated. A certificate of vaccination or recovery (with some exceptions) must also be presented.

8:30 Incoming govt. to respect anti-Covid measures

The future government of Petr Fiala will respect the measures that the outgoing cabinet approved yesterday to curb the Covid-19 epidemic, the AntiCovid expert team of the future government said. But the measures are being adopted chaotically and unexpectedly, the AntiCovid team said. "Unfortunately, now we face the impacts of that the government did not take the necessary steps in early autumn, which we recommended." the team said.

8:30 Health Minister expects epidemic to worsen

The Covid epidemic will further deteriorate in the Czech Republic in the weeks to come and is expected to peak around Christmas, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said, adding that the number of Covid patients at intensive care units may reach up to 1,100 in early December. That is why the cabinet declared a state of emergency, Vojtech said after yesterday’s cabinet meeting. According to a document the cabinet discussed yesterday, the current epidemiological situation corresponds to the high-risk scenario. The number of infected people aged 60+ has been rising as well.

8:30 Czech Republic second-worst in EU

According to new infections, the Czech Republic is the second most affected country in the EU, based on data from the Our World in Data project. Only Slovakia is worse off. The Czech Republic was in a similar position nine months ago. In Slovakia, there are 1,430 infected per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days until Nov. 24. The Czech Republic had 1,097 cases. Austria remains third at 1,077. The Austrian government introduced a national quarantine at the end of last week due to the rapid spread of coronavirus infection. 

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November 25, 2021

DAILY OVERVIEW Highest number of serious cases in seven months

Laboratories confirmed 18,004 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest figure for that day and 3,859 more than a week ago. Some 5,886 people are hospitalized with 848 in serious condition. That is the highest number of serious cases in seven months. A week earlier, 4,795 were hospitalized with 712 in serious condition. Some 33 deaths were reported for Wednesday, which will be revised upward. The toll has been over 100 for five of the past seven days. The seven-day toll is at 667, and for the month so far it is 1,660.

The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days is 1,097, up from 1,061 a day earlier. Last Wednesday, the incidence rate was 819. The reproduction number R is at 1.18. For Prague, the incidence number is 1,038. In the Olomouc region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 1,494.

RESTRICTIONS State of emergency to start at midnight

UPDATED: 17:25 The Czech government has announced the beginning of a new state of emergency lasting for 30 days in the Czech Republic, to take effect from midnight tonight.

Although the government had on Tuesday agreed with regional governors that the state of emergency was not necessary, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the change is now needed to allow the implementation of some blanket measures to halt the dramatic increase in cases recently seen in the Czech Republic.

"We are convinced that we must introduce compulsory vaccination," said Babiš following this afternoon's government meeting. He said that this should apply to people over the age of 50.

Czech law requires that the cabinet immediately inform parliament about their decision. The lower house of parliament has the ability to cancel the state of emergency if they see fit. The previous state of emergency in the Czech Republic was in effect from Oct. 5, 2020, until April 11, 2021.

  • With effect from Friday 6 pm, the government has banned the operation of Christmas markets, with the exception of the sale of Christmas trees and carp.
  • The consumption of alcohol in public and food in food courts in shopping malls is prohibited. It will only be possible to take food with you.
  • Pubs, restaurants, and nightclubs must be closed from 10 p.m. until 4.55 a.m. the following day.
  • From Friday, a maximum of 100 people will be able to take part in celebrations, parties. A maximum of 1,000 people will now be able to attend cultural and sporting events.

The measures are intended to restrict contacts, though Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said no full lockdown will be imposed. He called on people over 60 to maximally reduce their contacts over Covid risk and seek the booster vaccine dose.

Vaccination Vaccines for children to arrive before Christmas

The first Pfizer vaccines for children aged five to eleven should be delivered to the Czech Republic from December 20, the Smart Quarantine team announced on Twitter today. The news followed approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the use of the Pfizer jab for children older than five. In the Czech Republic, this will make another 390,000 people eligible to receive the vaccine. The Czech Vaccinology Society is meanwhile concluding its evaluation of the vaccination of children. The State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) said the doses delivered to this age group will be around a third of the size of doses delivered to adults. Around 40 percent of Czech children from twelve to fifteen have so far received a Covid vaccine.

At the government press conference, Prime Minister Babiš meanwhile said the cabinet believes vaccines should be made mandatory for everyone over 60 years of age, and that this requirement could also be extended to everyone over 50. The measure is yet to be confirmed, however.

HOSPITALS 19 Covid patients to be moved from Brno to Prague

The Czech military will transport four patients needing ventilators and 15 other Covid-19 patients from two overburdened teaching hospitals in Brno to six Prague hospitals on Thursday in order to have at least some free capacity in Brno, South Moravia. Two patients in serious condition are from the Brno Teaching Hospital and another two from the St. Anne Teaching Hospital.

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The 15 patients whose conditions are not so serious are from the Brno Teaching Hospital. Four patients will be helicoptered to Prague, the others will be transported in ambulance vehicles. South Moravia Governor Jan Grolich said blanket measures are needed. The situation in South Moravia is so serious that it cannot be solved only on the regional level, he said.

Separately, Bulovka University Hospital in Prague will halt scheduled non-essential operations and hospitalizations as of Thursday. The Motol Hospital did so as of Monday due to the deteriorating epidemiological situation. Restrictions do not apply to acute and life-threatening conditions.

COMPENSATION Next government plans to establish Covid fund

The future Czech government of SPOLU and the Pirates/STAN plans to establish a special Covid fund to secure efficient and prompt compensation for businesses harmed by the anti-Covid restrictions. The new cabinet also intends to tackle the problems of employees, planning to modify the labor law to be more flexible. The coalition has included compensatory plans for businesses and the culture sector if their activities were restricted by government measures among the medium-term measures to come into force at the end of this year.

When it comes to employees, it would like to focus on the situations where they are drawing sick pay or looking after a family member.

November 24, 2021

OVERVIEW Another record number of new cases

Tests on Tuesday revealed 25,864 new Covid cases, the highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic. This is the third new record in the past eight days. There are 5,652 hospitalized with 799 in serious condition, up from 4,752 hospitalized with 682 serious cases a week ago, according to Health Ministry data. The number of serious Covid cases is the highest since April 21. Some 48 deaths were reported, which will be revised. The death toll passed 100 three times in the past seven days, and the total for the past week is 637.

The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over the past seven days also set a new record, hitting 1,061, up from 1,030 a day earlier. Worldwide, the Czech Republic is in third place. Only European countries now have a weekly incidence of over 1,000: Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia.

The reproduction number R is at 1.25. For Prague, the incidence number is 1,054. In the Olomouc region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 1,505.  

POLICY Incoming Czech govt. opposes mandatory vaccination, won't close schools

Representatives of incoming Prime Minister Petr Fiala's future government, a coalition SPOLU with Pirates and STAN, said that there will be no blanket closures of schools. In the future, the coalition is planning to give more power to school principals so that they can decide on further steps with public health officials.

The coalition supports the obligation to wear respirators in all interior spaces. However, an exception should be maintained for day-care centers, elementary and secondary schools.

The incoming government is also against mandatory vaccinations for some age groups. If professional organizations want to make compulsory vaccination for members, the state should allow it. The coalition says it wants to reinstate PCR tests as proof against infection for attending events or going to restaurants, instead of the current system that allows only vaccination or recovery (with exceptions).

The coalition called on citizens to reduce social contacts. The epidemic in the Czech regions is to be addressed by regional hygiene offices, which may reduce the number of people at events. The new coalition is also planning an amendment to the pandemic law to prolong its efficiency and modify the parts that do not work.

REGIONAL RESTRICTIONS Zlín region to limit social life, ban large events

The Zlín region will limit social life for at least 14 days in order to help hospitals that are filled almost to capacity due to the Covid situation, news server Seznam Zprávy reported. The limits will come into effect next week. A ban on cultural or sporting events for more than 100 people is likely. The restrictions must be approved by the regional hygienists, the tightening is within their competence.

The South Moravia and Moravia-Silesia regions are contemplating similar steps. South Moravia, which includes Brno, may restrict its Christmas markets. Moravia-Silesia Governor Ivo Vondrák said that if people do not follow basic precautions, such as wearing respirators, then mass events are very risky. “The situation is getting worse. I don't understand why society won't be vaccinated,” he said.

CANCELLATION No entertainment program at Old Town Square market

The planned music and cultural program for the Christmas market at Old Town Square has been canceled due to the worsening pandemic situation, market organizer Taiko announced. Visitors will also need to provide proof of vaccination or recovery when buying snacks from the stalls, with some exceptions where a PCR test is allowed under the current guidelines. Since Old Town Square is a busy area with people constantly transiting, it will not be possible to check the certificates of everyone who enters the market, which is why individual food stands will check. Police will also monitor the square.

The lighting of the Christmas tree has already been canceled, and will likely take place overnight when the square is empty to avoid creating a crowd.  

VACCINATION Govt. council backs mandatory jabs for people over 60

The Government Health Risks Council yesterday supported the introduction of the mandatory Covid vaccination for people over 60, outgoing PM Andrej Babiš told journalists. These elderly people face the biggest risk when it comes to the coronavirus infection, Babiš said. Eighty percent of Czechs over 60 have received at least one Covid vaccine dose. On Monday, the cabinet in resignation opened the discussion about the mandatory vaccination of some professions. An inter-ministerial commission to assess it will be established to debate it.

HOSPITALS South Moravian hospital stops standard health care

Kyjov hospital head Lubomír Wenzl declared a state of mass health damage as the hospital is close to being no longer able to provide specialized care for the Covid patients who need a ventilator at the anesthesiology and resuscitation (ARO) unit. The state of mass health damage is an extraordinary event during which a medical facility does not provide standard health care due to a lack of resources. Amid the ongoing wave of infection, the Kyjov hospital is the first to have taken the step.

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The hospital had extended its original capacity at the ARO unit from six beds to 14, but only two beds are vacant now. The reserve is a bit bigger for standard beds, but it has been slimming as well.

November 23, 2021

OVERVIEW Highest number of new Covid cases for a Monday

There were 14,480 new confirmed coronavirus cases yesterday, the highest number for a Monday since the pandemic began. The number of hospitalized rose to 5,434 with 764 in serious condition, up from 4,702 hospitalized with 676 serious cases a week ago. Many hospitals have reduced their planned surgeries and raised the number of Covid beds.

Fifty-one deaths were reported for Monday, which is likely to be revised. The revised number has topped 100 twice in the past seven days, the highest since mid-April. The November toll is now 1,441.

The incidence rate of new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days rose to 1,029 and the reproduction number R is at 1.26. For Prague, the incidence number is 1,033. In the Olomouc region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 1,422.

cancellation Christmas tree lighting canceled

The lighting of the Christmas tree at Prague’s Old Town Square has been canceled. “We are sorry to announce that the festive lighting of the Christmas tree on the Old Town Square, scheduled for 27 Nov. 27, will not take place due to the deteriorating epidemiological situation. Advent is above all waiting for birth. Let us not allow the dozens of ICUs to turn into their opposite,” Prague City Tourism announced in a tweet.

POLICY Govt. to discuss possible state of emergency with governors

The Czech government did not declare a state of emergency due to the worsening epidemic situation in the country, Prime Minister Andrej Babiś said during yesterday’s cabinet meeting. Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček told ČTK that nobody even proposed declaring the state of emergency at the cabinet meeting. Health Ministry representatives will negotiate the situation with the regional governors on Tuesday. Politicians of the future government coalition will also talk to the governors. If the state of emergency were declared, the state could order medical students to start assisting in hospitals.

VACCINATION Govt. considering mandatory jab for some professions

The Czech government opened a debate yesterday on obligatory vaccination against coronavirus for some professions such as health and social workers, police officers, soldiers, and firefighters, Prime Minister Andrej Babiś said. A special commission will be set up to assess the possible obligatory vaccination. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said he would like to end the debate by the end of the week and present the ministry stance to the government next week. He said there was no need to pass a new law on obligatory vaccination as it can be introduced based on a regulation to the law on the protection of public health.

The Czech Medical Chamber yesterday called on the Health Ministry to introduce mandatory vaccination for the whole population. Deputy Health Minister Martina Koziar Vašáková and chief public health officer Pavla Svrčinová said that mandatory vaccination is a better solution than a permanent tightening of the restrictive measures for the unvaccinated. Representatives of both the outgoing government and the possible future government previously opposed the introduction of obligatory Covid vaccination.

SCHOOLS More Covid tests to be purchased

The Czech Republic will buy some 14 million antigen COVID test kits for the planned weekly testing of elementary and secondary school students and will use money from the EU Solidarity Fund to cover the deal to be secured by the State Administration of Material Reserves (SSHR), the cabinet decided yesterday. Education Minister Robert Plaga tweeted that the cabinet has also earmarked CZK 192 million for the more reliable PCR tests at schools, which is voluntary. If opting for the PCR method, a school will see the costs reimbursed by CZK 200 per test.

TREATMENT Germany donated Covid medicine for Czech hospitals

Germany has donated 10,000 doses of Regn-Cov-2 antibody medicine from the Regeneron and Roche firms to the Czech Republic, Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch tweeted. The medicines arrived on Sunday and will be distributed to hospitals as quickly as possible. On Friday, some hospitals reported running out of the antibody medicines designated for infected patients with an increased risk of severe Covid-19. Further doses, bought by the ministry, will arrive in mid-December.  

November 22, 2021

OVERVIEW Over 2 million Covid infected since March 2020

The Czech Republic has seen over 2 million confirmed Covid cases since the epidemic outbreak in March 2020. Some 8,244 new cases were reported for Sunday, the highest Sunday figure so far and nearly 2,600 more than a week ago, the Health Ministry's data showed. Czech hospitals report 4,885 patients with confirmed coronavirus infection, with 715 in serious condition, up from 4,069 hospitalized and 615 serious cases a week ago.

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There were 46 deaths reported for Sunday, which is likely to be revised. The figure for Nov. 18 has been revised to 116, the first time it has been over 100 since April 10. the November death toll so far is 1,310.

The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over seven days is at 1,002, up from 978 a day earlier. The reproduction number R is at 1.23. For Prague, the incidence number is 1,005. In the Olomouc district, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 1,425.

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Tečka App not working for many

The Tečka app showing evidence of Covid vaccination or previous infection is suffering technical difficulties today (Monday Nov. 22), with many people reporting an inability to access their Covid evidence. This has led to people being turned away from restaurants due to an inability to display their certification. It is thought the technical problem has been caused by an update to the system meaning the app no longer shows negative test result as proof of non-infectivity.

Policy Czech govt. could reintroduce state of emergency

The Czech government announced that it is considering declaring a state of emergency in the Czech Republic once again, due to the accelerating coronavirus epidemic, Chief Hygienist Pavla Svrčinová told Czech Radio-Radiožurnál on Monday morning. The measure would allow medics to help hospitals facing an onslaught of patients with Covid-19. Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch will propose the reintroduction of the state of emergency at Monday's government meeting. Compensation for business owners due to declining sales will also be discussed.

RESTRICTIONS Tougher restrictions take effect

Neither antigen nor PCR tests will be recognized as proof of one's clean bill of health from Covid as of today. Upon arrival at pubs or restaurants, cultural or sports events including concerts, plays, or cinema, indoor sports facilities, public pools, and saunas, museums, castles, or chateaux, zoos or botanical gardens, beauty and spa services, or accommodation, people must prove that they have been either fully vaccinated against Covid or that they contracted the infection in the past 180 days and recovered. Exceptions exist for minors and those who cannot get vaccinated for health reasons. See the full list of current coronavirus restrictions here.

VACCINATION People over 60 can get a booster dose after five months

People over 60 and chronically ill will be allowed to get the Covid booster jab after five months from the second dose instead of the current six-month time as of Dec. 1. Over 6.2 million people have been fully vaccinated. Out of them, roughly 621,000 have received the booster dose. The government in resignation will do its best to make the third vaccine dose available for other people as soon as possible, Babiš said.

The effect of the second dose regardless of the vaccine decreases to 60 percent after six months and to 50 percent after nine months. The booster dose reinforces the vaccine's effectiveness to 90 percent. It is possible that some people will need even the fourth dose of the Covid vaccine, Vlastimil Válek, the likely health minister for the incoming government, said in an interview through the weekend.

Vaccine supply Vaccines for children coming on Dec. 20

Germany has said that EU states will start receiving Covid vaccines for children from Dec. 20. German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the Pfizer vaccine will be produced for children aged five to eleven, with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) currently assessing the effects of the vaccine for this age group. Spahn said EMA approval for this age group is expected by the end of this week. The use of the vaccine in the Czech Republic must be approved by the State Institute for Drug Control.

TESTING Testing returns to schools and workplaces

Regular blanket testing of unvaccinated students will take place every Monday, and likely last until at least the end of February. Unvaccinated employees, as well as the self-employed, must test every Monday. Companies may use antigen self-test kits for the testing.

TRAVEL Canary Islands and Madeira turn red on Czech map

Madeira and the Canary Islands will move from medium-risk orange to high-risk red on the latest Covid-19 travel map, the Czech Health Ministry has announced. Travelers without proof of vaccination or recovery coming to the Czech Republic from these countries will face tightened restrictions as of today.

Also from Monday, neighboring Austria has announced it will be closing its borders to tourist travel due to a recent surge in Covid-19 cases. The travel ban will last a minimum of 10 days, and a maximum of 20. Read our full story here.

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