The Central Crisis Staff, which is leading the official Czech response to
Covid-19, will recommend that the government lift a ban on leaving the
Czech Republic from April 14. However, people will only be allowed to exit
the country in justified cases, the head of the Central Crisis Staff, Jan
Hamáček, told reporters on Monday.
The country’s borders would remain closed under such a change, Mr. Hamáček, who is also interior minister, said, adding that selected frontier crossings would continue to operate. Anybody who leaves the country will need to go into quarantine if they return.
A prohibition (with exceptions) on residents of the Czech Republic leaving and on foreigners entering the country is due to run until April 12. A ban on travel to “risk” states entered into effect on March 14; two days later it was extended to all countries.
Around 100 Czech tourists returned back home o from the quarantined Tyrol
region in Austria on Friday morning. Their return trip was organised by the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which sent a special convoy composed of a bus
and several cars, the Czech News Agency reports.
The Czechs, most of whom seem to have been on skiing holidays, were stranded in and around Ischgl und Sankt Anton, areas which have been quarantined and deemed high risk during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. More Czechs are expected to return from the region later in the day. Further repatriation flights from Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia will take place within the next two weeks.
Nearly 4,500 Czechs have been repatriated through Foreign Ministry organised transports since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček there are still some 2,500 Czech citizens abroad who are asking to be repatriated.
Minister of Interior Jan Hamáček, along with police and customs officials
on Tuesday opened a National Border Protection Centre in Prague. The main
task of the newly established centre is to ensure cooperation between
security forces in the protection of the Czech Republic’s outer borders.
The joint centre of the immigration police and the Czech Republic’s Customs Administration, which is located in Prague, will cooperate with partners in the Schengen Area and other countries.
Mr Hamáček said better protection of the Czech Republic’s outer borders was a basic precondition for preserving the freedom of movement.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s EU summit in Salzburg, the Czech and Slovak heads of government criticized the European Commission‘s plans to increase funding for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex. They argued that this amounts to duplicating European security structures and boosting an agency that has not proven very effective.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has hailed the agreement on migration reached after nine hours of gruelling talks at an EU summit in Brussels as a huge success for the Visegrad Group’s common policy. The newly-appointed head of government, who has vehemently fought the idea of mandatory quotas, said the focus had shifted with the accent now on voluntary cooperation and the need to resolve the migrant crisis outside of Europe.
The Czech ministry of finance has lodged a new demand that customs officers
are allowed to investigate and pursue a much wider range of tax related
At the moment, they only have full competence with regard to Valued Added Tax and customs duties. Other tax related cases must be handed over to the police.
A similar attempt to widen the competences of the customs administration was made in 2016 by the then finance minister Andrej Babiš. It failed to win support from other government parties. Babiš is now prime minister and head of the biggest party, ANO.
Czech minister of interior, Milan Chovanec, has replied to criticism of the Czech Republic by one of the interior security experts of one of Germany’s main government parties. Armin Schuster, an expert for the CDU, attacked both the Czech Republic and Poland for their alleged failure to properly police their domestic territory. Schuster said that failure was highlighted when Germany reinstated border controls last week in connection with the G20 summit in Hamburg and many wanted people were found who had crossed into the country. Schuster added that the European Commission should quickly investigate the claimed failings. Chovanec said Schuster’s comments failed to reflect the high level of police cooperation between Czech and German forces.
Snow and icy conditions have been complicating traffic in many parts of the country. The Road Maintenance Authority has closed the main road to Poland via Harrachov for trucks and the restriction is likely to remain in place at least until Thursday. Meteorologists predict another 25 centimeters of fresh snow in the course of the day. Maintenance crews are out in force to keep the main roads clear.
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