Court ruling speeds up reopenings of pubs, restaurants, sports facilities and cultural institutions

Monday, May 31 has brought another wave of reopenings, a fortnight earlier than planned. As of today pubs, clubs and restaurants can open their indoor spaces to visitors and people can once again visit swimming pools, saunas, spas and wellness facilities.

It has been a hectic weekend for people in the catering and wellness industry after Friday‘s unexpected announcement that they were back in business after five months of closure. Those who were not caught in the middle of a reconstruction, stocked up and scrambled to prepare for Monday’s reopening. Lenka, a waitress at a Prague restaurant says it is good to be back in action.

“We have been sprucing the place up for visitors, washing dishes, polishing glasses, filling the fridges, disinfecting and so on. We’ve only been running at 50 percent capacity –now we hope to return to normal.”

The green light that restaurants, pubs, sports and entertainment facilities had long been waiting for came a fortnight early on Friday –a decision speeded up by the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court which said the government had no right to extend the blanket closure of restaurants and wellness facilities under the new pandemic law. In order to avoid problems and taking into account the improving epidemiological situation Health Minister Adam Vojtěch announced plans for an extensive reopening as of May 31, saying that he hoped it would not trigger a set-back.

Adam Vojtěch | Photo: Michaela Danelová,  Czech Radio

“We now have five million people who have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and there are many people who have post-Covid immunity, so I am hoping that this broad easing of measures a fortnight earlier than planned will not have a significant impact, particularly on the most vulnerable group of seniors.“

Group tours at castles and museums are once again allowed, people can spend time in game bars and casinos. The number of participants at conferences has gone from 50 to 250 and music ensembles and choirs of up to 30 people can once again start practicing. Dance clubs and discos have been allowed to reopen although live music and dancing is still prohibited.

Unlike in restaurants, pubs, cafes and other services where self-tests are recognized, visitors to swimming pools, discos, cinemas, casinos or sports facilities must have antigen or PCR tests performed by a healthcare professional. An antigen test is valid for three days, a PCR for a week.

Swimming stadium Podolí,  photo: Jiří Němec

While in pubs and restaurants clients will not be asked to produce the tests unless there is an inspection, at venues such as swimming pools, casinos or clubs where professional tests are required they will have to produce them at the entrance and the respective venue will be held responsible for checking them. Alternatively, people can produce certificates of vaccination – valid 22 days after the first vaccine was administered – or of post-Covid immunity valid for 180 days.

As the epidemiological situation continues to improve the government is already debating a further easing of measures, such as allowing dancing at discos and the reopening of children’s corners at shopping malls.