Czech government mulls cutting Covid quarantine periods

The Czech government is considering shortening isolation periods for people who test positive for Covid-19. Prime Minister Petr Fiala also says that the state will cover the cost of compulsory workplace tests due to start in two weeks’ time.

Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain have cut quarantine periods for those who test positive for Covid-19.

This is seen as the only way of avoiding critical labour shortages as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus surges.

Unlike in many other states, Omicron has not yet caused record infection rates in the Czech Republic.

But the government is already considering reducing isolation periods from the current 14 days, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in an interview on CNN Prima News.

“We are discussing shortening isolation and quarantine periods. The debate is at present taking place among our expert groups, and we will make a decision based on their recommendations.

“Some states, like the US, have cut isolation periods and other countries are discussing it. For instance, there is an intensive debate in Germany as to how long the period should be.

“Our discussions will end in a few days and we will then take a political decision.”

Petr Fiala | Photo: Office of Czech Government

Mr. Fiala’s government, which was appointed last month, has emphasised freedom and responsibility in its messaging on Covid.

The Together coalition, which Mr. Fiala led into last year’s elections, made no more lockdowns one of its pledges to voters.

The PM outlined his cabinet’s philosophy, based on large-scale testing, to CNN Prima News.

“Our whole approach is: Let’s do massive testing, let’s do all the things that the experts always recommend, but which previously weren’t carried out to a sufficient degree.

“Then we won’t need to have lockdowns. This will be not just, let’s say, socially bearable – it will also be more bearable economically.”

Testing has just been stepped up for two weeks at Czech schools with the return of pupils and students after the holidays.

In addition, compulsory testing as frequently as every three days is due to come in at all workplaces in a fortnight’s time.

The prime minister said employers would not have to bear the costs of intensified testing.

“When it comes to tests, we are of course ready to pay for them, via health insurance. A decision on this will be made in the coming days.

“But naturally tests with the frequency that we have outlined in our government proposal will be covered.

“So if we say everybody should be tested twice a week, or every three to five days, then that will, of course, be covered.”

The new testing regime should soon be rubberstamped after talks between Mr. Fiala’s government, employers and unions.

The PM reiterated in the CNN Prima News interview that he was cool on the idea of compulsory vaccinations of some population groups.

His government will overturn an order bringing in such jabs – due to take effect from March – issued by the last Czech government.