The State Security Council has decided to severely limit free movement in the Czech Republic from midnight March 16 to 6am March 24 in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš stressed that this is not a ban on leaving the house, but simply an attempt to limit people to going to work, shop for supplies and spend the rest of their time home. A two meter distance is to be kept between individuals.
Excemptions from the "ban on movement", as the prime minister dubbed it, are:
- going to work and moving for business purposes
- necessary visits of family and loved ones
- purchases of food, vital suplies, fuel and medicine
- use of necessary financial and postal services
- providing services for others, such as neighborhood assistance or volunteering
- the necessary escorting of relatives
- urgent official matters
- for police, health care or social care staff
- for those in the supply and distribution services
- veterinary care
- walks in nature and parks
Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said the council acted on advice from countries which have been successfully tackling the epidemic and that the Czech Republic was putting these measures in place ahead of states in other regions which are already feeling the brunt of the epidemic.
Senate elections have been delayed as has the deadline for sending in tax returns (newly July 1st).
Checks at border crossings with Germany and Austria will remain in place. No checks will be on the borders with Slovakia and Poland as these neighbours are checking the border from their side already, the Interior Minister said.
Regional administrations have been instructed to make space in specificaly chosen schools, kindergartens and other facilities that will be used to take care of the children of police and health care staff. Individual groups of children, which will be taught by teachers and other available staff, are not to exceed 15 members.
As of Sunday night there are 293 people infected with COVID-19 in the country.
The authorities have locked down 21 towns and villages in the Olomouc region which have seen a significant increase in coronavirus cases.
(They are:Uničov, Červenka, Litovel, Chořelice, Chudobín, Myslechovice, Nasobůrky, Nová Ves u Litovle, Rozvadovice, Savín, Tři Dvory u Litovle, Unčovice, Víska u Litovle, Benkov u Střelic, Brníčko, Dětřichov, Dolní Sukolom, Horní Sukolom, Nová Dědina u Uničova, Renoty and Střelice u Litovle.)
Their inhabitants are not allowed to leave town, with the exception of emergencies, and no one is allowed in, except for paramedics and services.Over 1,000 people have been quarantined in the area.
The Interior Ministry has issued an appeal urging the public to use whatever protective gear they have against the coronavirus. People who have masks should wear them, especially when shopping or using public transport, and those who don’t should cover up with a shawl, wear glasses to protect their eyes and if possible make their own linen masks at home.
People in Prague will not be allowed on trams, busses and the metro without some form of protection – either a facemask or shawl to cover their nose and mouth. Other cities have issued similar instructions.
The Czech Republic currently has 298 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, the Czech Health Ministry reported on Monday morning.
In 46 percent of the cases hygiene officers have not be able to trace the source of the infection.
On Sunday morning the country had 214 registered cases.
The health authorities have increased the number of clinics and hospitals which provide testing.
People who have coronavirus symptoms have been asked to contact their GP or respective hygiene office before setting out to try and get a test.
General practitioners who lack facemasks and respirators should not attend to patients and restrict their activity to providing on-line services and e-prescriptions, the Association of Czech General Practitioners said on Sunday.
It further advised doctors who do not have protective gear to lock up their waiting rooms and only see patients with serious problems by appointment. The association has expressed concern over the lack of respirators and protective gear for a large number of GPs who are exposed to infection daily.
Czech pharmacists, who also lack respirators have appealed to people not to come in for medicaments if they are ill and send a healthy member of the family in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. They have also urged people not to visit pharmacies for things like dental care products or cosmetics.
The Czech Republic will designate two hospitals to specialise in treating patients with severe cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection. It is likely that one will be in Prague and the other in the Moravian city of Brno, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said at a press briefing on Sunday night.
These hospitals will be outfitted with special lung ventilation equipment for patients.
Approximately 50 Czechs are quarantined in Egypt due to coronavirus exposure, the Czech Foreign Ministry reported, saying that negotiations were underway to have them repatriated. Most of them are tourists and travel agency employees.
Another 50 are reported to be on their way back to the Czech Republic. There are estimated to be around 200,000 Czechs abroad.
The ministry as urged them to contact the nearest Czech embassy and return home as soon as possible. Those returning from “high-risk” countries will be automatically quarantined.