Poll: Will you still wear a respirator on Czech public transport?

The legal obligation to cover your mouth and nose on public transit ends at midnight, but many experts urge caution.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 13.04.2022 10:56:00 (updated on 13.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

As of midnight, respirators will no longer be required on public transit in the Czech Republic, ending one of the few remaining Covid restrictions. Health experts, though, urge people to continue to wear face protection in public spaces.

The lifting of the requirement applies across the Czech Republic, but the pandemic has not receded equally in all regions. While the incidence number of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days is currently at 251 for the whole country, in Prague it is 403.

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek, when he announced that the requirement was being lifted, urged people to take a common-sense approach to their own health.

“In Japan, respirators have never been ordered, yet every smart Japanese person wears a respirator whenever there is a threatening risk of getting infected,” Válek said.

He recommends that people should wear respirators if they are in areas where they are with strangers or that are poorly ventilated.

The end of the respirator obligation was approved by the National Institute for Pandemic Management, but it was not unanimous. Epidemiologist Rastislav Maďar was one of those opposed.

Will you voluntarily wear a respirator on public transit?

Yes 59 %
No 41 %
968 readers voted on this poll. Voting is closed

Libor Grubhoffer, a biochemist and director of the Biological Center of the Czech Academy of Sciences, told new server Seznam Zprávy that the move was guided more by public opinion than by medical data.

“As far as Prague is concerned, the incidence values are higher and overall the situation is different regionally. I think it could still wait. Especially since cases of other acute respiratory diseases, even allegedly influenza, are now beginning to appear,” Grubhoffer said.

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He also pointed out that a new and even more contagious variant of Omicron called XE was discovered in the Czech population.

“I would recommend that people in public transport still have respirators. We will see how the variant will behave,” he said.

Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS) head Ladislav Dušek told the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Parliament, that the risk of infection remains high.

“There is a high probability that you will meet the infected person in everyday life,” Dušek said.

On the other hand, biochemist Zdeněk Hostomský told CNN Prima News that he has not been wearing a respirator on public transit for two weeks, despite it still being required.

“I am glad that this measure will end. Respirators are a symbol. I haven’t worn them on the tram for two weeks. Today I encountered a police officer who looked at me and didn't even say anything,” he said.

He added that the government should focus its attention on the at-risk population instead of making everyone wear face protection.

As of Thursday, the obligation to wear respirators will remain only in medical and social facilities.

The requirement to wear a face-covering on public transit was one of the first restrictions to slow the spread of Covid. It was first introduced in Prague on March 17, 2020. Initially, makeshift masks were allowed but that rule was stiffened to require FFP2 or KN95 masks once they became widely available. The rule was relaxed briefly in the summer of 2020 for trams and buses, but not the metro. It was reintroduced in the autumn of 2020 when cases had a resurgence.

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