Czech shops to remain closed; respirators to become mandatory in transport and stores

The govt. has announced that, from Monday, respirators, not cloth masks, must be worn in transport and shops.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 19.02.2021 10:34 (updated on 20.02.2021)

The Czech government will not permit the reopening of all retail shops on Monday as the coronavirus epidemic situation in the country is not stable, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček tweeted today.

"The pandemic situation is not good, the British mutation of the virus continues to spread. We have therefore decided that we will not open the rest of the closed retail outlets yet. But next week I will reopen the topic and suggest further steps according to the state of the spread of the epidemic," he wrote.

Minister of Health Jan Blatný also said after the government meeting that it will become mandatory from Monday to wear FFP2 respirators in shops, public transport, and hospitals.

"In the last few days, there has been a further deterioration in the Czech Republic," said Blatný following the government's Friday meeting. People will be able to use nanotraps or layer on two surgical masks.

  • Respirators, nano masks, or two surgical face masks must be worn in shops, public transport, and other public places with a high concentration of people from Monday.
  • Homemade textile masks are no longer considered significant protection.
  • The new rule is due to the worsening epidemiological and the spread of the more infectious British mutation in the Czech Republic.
  • The Health Ministry recommends respirators of the KN95 and FFP2 categories.

The Czech Republic saw another 11,553 coronavirus cases on Thursday, 2,500 more than a week ago, and has recorded over 10,000 new infections a day for the third day in a row. Hospitals are currently overloaded and more than 1,200 COVID-infected are in serious condition in the hospital now, a record high number.

Havlíček proposed the ban on retail sales be lifted as of Monday if staffers wear FFP2 respirators and a distance of 15 square metres per customer was kept in shops.

Havlíček maintained that the risk of coronavirus spread in shops is minimal and mobility would rise by only 5 percent. But he added that he respected the worsening situation in hospitals and the necessity to be cautious.

Shop operators were preparing for the expected re-opening, buying respirators for their employees and ordering information leaflets. The Association of Shopping Centres said increased movement after the re-opening of all shops would be negligible.

The government banned retail sales with some exceptions as of Oct. 22, 2020. The ban was lifted for some three weeks in December. Now, only grocery stores, drugstores, pharmacies, florists, and shops selling essential goods are open in the Czech Republic.

In early February, the government canceled the higher VAT on FFP2s for two months, allowing dealers could reduce their prices. Blatný told reporters that if access to respirators is limited to the govt. is prepared to "deal with the situation with the relevant authorities that are in charge of this."