All quiet on the Czech border as strict foot-and-mouth measures begin to bite

In early March the Czech Republic introduced strict security measures on its borders, to prevent the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease from stealing across the border to infect Czech sheep, cattle and pigs. All visitors are asked to wipe their shoes on special trays of disinfectant, suitcases and bags are unpacked and food containing meat or dairy products is confiscated and destroyed. Businesses in the border regions say profits are down as German and Austrian day-trippers cancel shopping trips to the Czech Republic. But those who do make the trip seem to have no complaints about the measures, as Radio Prague's Nick Carey found out when we visited the Rozvadov border crossing with Germany:

Photo: Radio Prague
"I think it's good. Because when you hear the news in Germany and Holland, it's a good job they're doing here..." "I think it's fair enough. They've got to do something. Whether it'll work is another matter, but at least they're doing something. You've got to do something, haven't you?" "I think it's a very smart thing that they're doing that. Because it's a very severe epidemic, so I think it's good that they try to prevent it. But I don't whether it works. Because it's also useful to do the tyres of cars and they should wash the cars too maybe. We come from Holland and Holland is very bad at the moment." And the border police themselves said visitors to the Czech Republic understood the need for strict security: "People realise now what this is all about - that there's a very real threat that the disease could now spread from France or the Netherlands. Some people have complained when they had to wait three or four hours or more, but the measures are essential and people understand that now. Everything's written down here in four languages, they can read why the measures are being taken, and now we're getting very few complaints to be honest." Agriculture Minister spokesman Hugo Roldan admitted the measures may not be 100 percent guaranteed to prevent foot-and-mouth from entering the country, but said they went a long way towards preventing a possible outbreak. "We are convinced they are absolutely necessary in order to avoid the bringing of this virus disease to the Czech Republic. You know, these are preventive measures. According to our knowledge a big amount of virus is concentrated on floors, so it could be a good prevention measure in order to avoid this disease. We are aware that the measures do not bring complete safety against the disease, but definitely they could help a lot in order to avoid the disease."