Czech Republic goes into quarantine to slow down coronavirus spread

The State Security Council has decided to severely limit free movement in the Czech Republic from midnight March 16 to 6am March 24 in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš stressed that this is not a ban on leaving the house, but simply an attempt to limit people to going to work, shop for supplies and spend the rest of their time home. A two meter distance is to be kept between individuals.

Excemptions from the "ban on movement", as the prime minister dubbed it, are:

- going to work and moving for business purposes

- necessary visits of family and loved ones

- purchases of food, vital suplies, fuel and medicine

- use of necessary financial and postal services

- providing services for others, such as neighborhood assistance or volunteering

- the necessary escorting of relatives

- urgent official matters

- for police, health care or social care staff

- for those in the supply and distribution services

- veterinary care

- walks in nature and parks

- funerals

Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said the council acted on advice from countries which have been successfully tackling the epidemic and that the Czech Republic was putting these measures in place ahead of states in other regions which are already feeling the brunt of the epidemic.

Senate elections have been delayed as has the deadline for sending in tax returns (newly July 1st).

Checks at border crossings with Germany and Austria will remain in place. No checks will be on the borders with Slovakia and Poland as these neighbours are checking the border from their side already, the Interior Minister said.

Regional administrations have been instructed to make space in specificaly chosen schools, kindergartens and other facilities that will be used to take care of the children of police and health care staff. Individual groups of children, which will be taught by teachers and other available staff, are not to exceed 15 members.

As of Sunday night there are 293 people infected with COVID-19 in the country.

Author: Tom McEnchroe