Czech government loosens restrictions ahead of Easter, but masses and caroling strictly banned

Photo: ČTK/Miroslav Chaloupka

With Easter around the corner and a glorious bout of spring weather belying the gravity of the coronavirus crisis, the government has moved to ease restrictions at least in some small measure which would allow people to get a breath of fresh air and enjoy the spring holidays. However masses and caroling are strictly banned.

Photo: ČTK/Miroslav Chaloupka
The Easter holidays, the second most popular holidays of the year after Christmas, are usually a time of get-togethers; families meet, neighbours enjoy a few shots of home-made plum brandy and barbecue, carolers go from home to home, sweethearts give each other painted eggs and boys chase girls to give them the traditional “Easter whipping” with braided willow branches. This year is Leap Year – which means their roles would have been reversed and the girls could have got a bit of their own back. However none of that is going to happen.

Under government regulations, the restrictions on movement aimed at curbing the coronavirus epidemic forbid any kind of get-togethers. People have been asked to celebrate Easter with their closest family at home. If they do go out, they will have to respect the restrictions on freedom of movement – with no more than two people out together, with an exception for families – a rule that will last for the duration of the state of emergency in the country. People will still need to observe a distance of two meters from others and refrain from stopping to chat. Church goers have been asked to watch the Easter masses online.

However, knowing the Czech passion for country houses and gardening the government has decided to open so-called hobby markets, where people can but gardening equipment and greenery to start the season.

The easing of restrictions will also enable recreational sports activities outdoors with outdoor sports facilities due to reopen to enable individual sports. The operative words are “individual” and “outdoors”. People, biking, running or hiking in remote areas can do so without a face mask. However they must have one in places where they are passing within two meters from other people.

Photo: Jiří Fröhlich, Pixabay / CC0
Some shops will gradually re-open. Hobby markets, building supply stores, hardware stores and bicycle services will open on Thursday. After Easter people will be able to shop in shoes stores, stationary stores and children’s shops. However all shops must provide disinfectant at the entrance, and they have been advised to limit the number of customers inside the shop so that people can keep a two meter distance from each other.

The government has promised to further soften restrictions in the coming days and weeks, if the coronavirus situation is under control. However face masks and the ban on travel will be the last restrictions lifted. For the time being the government has moved to allow what it calls travel for “substantiated” reasons as of April 14 – which is to allow people who need to travel for urgent family reasons or the employees of companies bound to provide maintenance of export articles abroad to do so. Further details regarding the partial lifting of travel restrictions will be released later this week.