Czech government presents a six-stage plan to exit lockdown

The Czech government has presented a six-stage plan for a gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions. If the epidemiological situation continues to develop favourably, it counts on the reopening of shops, markets and selected cultural facilities on May 3. The subsequent phases have thus far been left undated. Their activation is instead subject to the ratio of positive cases within the population.

After more than six months of lockdown and growing public frustration with the situation, Trade and Industry Minister Karel Havlíček on Thursday unveiled the government’s plans for a gradual easing of restrictions in the coming weeks.

“It is an important moment, because with this announcement we are also saying that the epidemiological situation is at a stage when an easing of restrictions in the economic, educational, cultural and sporting sectors is possible.”

Karel Havlíček | Photo: Office of Czech Government

The plan is based around six so-called “easing packages”, or stages of re-opening. The first, Mr. Havlíček announced, has been in force since April 12 and included, for example, the reopening of selected shops, farmers’ markets and zoos.

If the epidemiological situation continues to improve in the next three days, the government will give the green light to initiate stage two on May 3.  This upcoming package will include the reopening of small-sized shopping centres, animal care facilities and spas, although the latter will require customers keep to a set of safety measures. Furthermore, galleries, museums and national heritage sites will also be allowed to open, albeit without the possibility of hosting group visits.

The remaining four stages of the gradual easing will not run according to a set of dates. Rather, they will be based around the development of the country’s epidemiological situation.

For stage three to come into force there will have to be fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a period of seven days. For stage four to be activated the number of cases will have to lie at 75 within the same period. For stage five it will have to be 50 cases and for stage six 25.

The most significant of these later stages are packages four and five, which will see the reopening of sports facilities, restaurants and cinemas.

Photo: Ondřej Hájek,  ČTK

Mr. Havlíček said that the six-stage easing plan is designed to shadow the gradual reopening of schools.

“The logic of this plan is based around the prioritisation of reopening schools and kindergartens. Subsequently, or in parallel with the reopening of schools, we will also ease restrictions on business, educational and sporting activities.”

It is for this reason that kindergartens are set to open up in selected regions from April 26, one week before restrictions start being lifted in the economic and cultural sectors.

Next Monday will also see high schoolers and first year university students return to their classrooms. Secondary schools will be able to reopen in regions with low numbers of cases on May 3.