Borders open as map of Europe “goes green”

„Ampel-System“ (Quelle: Archiv des tschechischen Innenministeriums)

June 15 has brought a further loosening of travel restrictions on the Continent with Czechs now able to travel to the majority of European states without restrictions. People will also be able to discard their masks outdoors, without needing to observe the strict social distancing rules that have been in place since March.

Source: Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic
Tomáš Petříček, photo: Archive of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic

After three months of closed borders Czechs are once again free to travel to the majority of European states without any restrictions. In order to simplify matters, the Czech government has issued a travel map based on the principle of traffic lights with countries marked green, red and orange, to symbolize the coronavirus “risk” in the given state. Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček welcomed the fact that the way to most Schengen states in Europe is now open.

“The green countries are states that we consider safe and which Czechs can travel to without any restrictions. They can return from these countries without the need to produce a coronavirus negative test, without the need to observe a 14-day quarantine or even give any reason for why they travelled there.”

Czech Republic–Poland border, photo: ČTK / Luděk Peřina

Italy and Spain –two of the worst-hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic - are now on the green list. The map will periodically be updated according to the changing situation. The authorities warn that open borders does not automatically mean a low-risk destination. Poland is a case in point. Although borders with the neighbour state are now open, Czechs returning from Silesia Province will need to produce a negative COVID 19 test. Foreign Minister Petříček again:

“The situation in Silesia Province has sharply deteriorated in the past two weeks, which is reason for caution. We are advising people against travelling there and although borders are now open with all our neighbours, checks will remain on the border between Moravia-Silesia and Silesia Province.”

While the majority of EU member states are low-risk, Belgium and Great Britain are in the medium risk category, and Portugal, Sweden and Poland‘s Silesia Province are considered high risk, where Czechs can only travel for substantiated reasons and must produce a COVID negative test upon their return.

Photo: Marco Verch, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

The citizens and residents of low risk countries may enter the Czech Republic without any restrictions, those from high-risk and medium-risk countries are still banned from entering the Czech Republic, with certain exceptions such as for family or work reasons, in which case a negative COVID 19 test will be required.

However, since the map is being changed periodically travellers are always advised to check the situation before setting out. The Foreign Ministry has also warned Czechs that the conditions imposed by the Czech side may not always be fully reciprocal to those of the country where they are headed.

On the home scene –another big change is that masks outdoors are no longer required, even if people do not observe the strict social distancing rules which have been in place since March. However they are recommended at public gatherings which may now include up to two and a half thousand people. However in this case organizers have been asked to divide the crowd into segments of 500 and try to keep the groups separate.