Daily news summary
Czech government lifts ban on free movement and travel abroad
The Czech government has lifted the ban on the free movement of people as of Friday, April 24, and decided that people can move outside in groups of up to ten, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch announced at a press conference on Thursday evening. Mr. Vojtěch said that the latest favourable developments related to the Covid-19 situation had enabled the cabinet to lift the restrictions. The lifting of the ban also means that people can travel abroad.
Upon returning to the Czech Republic, they will have to produce a negative test for coronavirus or go into a two-week quarantine. This measure only applies to Czech citizens and residents.
The State Security Council has severely limited free movement in the Czech Republic since March 16 with several exemptions including going to work, necessary visits of family, purchases of food and vital supplies, and going to the doctor.
Government speeds up plan for re-opening shops and other venues
The Czech government has announced that they will be speeding up the five-step plan to re-open shops and restaurants. According to the revised plan, many venues will be able to open from Monday, April 27, two weeks earlier than previously announced.
In the original plan, only shops under 200 square meters were to reopen from April 27. The new timeline allows even larger shops of up to 2,500 square meters to open as soon as Monday, provided they have their own entrance.
Fitness centres and outdoor areas of zoos will also be allowed to open on Monday, April 27.
Government to ask lower house to extend state of emergency
The government will ask the Czech lower house to extend the state of emergency in the country until May 25, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček told journalists on Friday.
He said the move had received unanimous approval from cabinet ministers. The Health Ministry will present the Chamber of Deputies with a document justifying the move on Friday, Mr. Hamáček said.
The opposition has criticized plans for an extension and ANO, the leading party in the ruling coalition, was originally also against the idea.
The government initially imposed a 30-day state of emergency on March 13 in view of the coronavirus situation. MPs later voted to extend it to the end of April.
Babiš: Free travel exists just in theory, not in practice
The possibility of free travel, which returned to Czechs this Friday after the government relinquished some of its coronavirus measures, only exists in theory as current conditions make traveling abroad virtually impossible, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told Czech Radio’s Radiožurnál on Friday.
He said that flights remain canceled and that Czechs will not be allowed into other countries unless they have a valid coronavirus test. The loosening of measures therefore mainly applies to business trips, according to the prime minister. However, Mr Babiš did say that he is in regular negotiations with other countries regarding the subject of travel.
The Czech Republic is very effective in its combating of the coronavirus pandemic and is seen by many countries as an example, the prime minister said.
Travel Agencies: Government should help us negotiate agreements with low-risk countries
Following the reopening of the country’s borders, the government should now help Czech travel agencies negotiate bi-lateral agreements with so-called low risk coronavirus states. In the first phase these should include Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary, the head of the Association of Travel Agencies Jan Papež told Czech Television on Friday. Such agreements, he hopes, should enable Czechs to travel to these countries without restrictions, aside from a COVID-19 test, by the beginning of July. Mr Papež believes deals could also soon be negotiated with Bulgaria, Greece and the Balearic Islands.
Some travel agencies are considering providing COVID-19 tests as part of their travel offers. This would be up to each individual agency, said Mr Papež.
Coronavirus measures cost CZK 5 billion worth of film production in Czech Republic
Foreign film productions worth a total of CZK 5 billion crowns had to be canceled or delayed due to the coronavirus measures that have been put in place to combat the spread of the virus, trade unions of workers in the audiovisual sector write in a newly released study.
The document includes proposals for limiting the impact. This includes financial help, as well as the quickest possible reopening of cinemas, provided these adhere to safety measures, and allowing filming to go ahead without the use of facemasks.
Parts of Charles University to to partially reopen May 4
Parts of Charles University could begin offering lectures to a limited audience again from Monday, May 4, university spokesman Václav Hájek told the Czech News Agency on Friday. Specific details on what lectures will be held and what the precautionary measures will look like is to be decided upon by the university administration next week.
As part of its easing of the coronavirus restrictions, the Czech government announced on Thursday that universities can start teaching again already from Monday, April 27, as long as there are no more than five people in one group.
Smallest daily increase of Covid cases recorded since mid-March
The number of people with confirmed coronavirus infections reached 7,188 on Friday morning, according to data released by the Czech Ministry of Health.
The number of people who have registered positive for Covid-19 rose by 55 on Thursday, the smallest daily increase since March 14, when 48 new cases were registered. Some 213 deaths have been reported thus far.
Meanwhile, 2,152 people have recovered from Covid-19. Czech labs have tested over 203,000 people to date.
Trust in the economy slides in April
Trust in the economy has taken the steepest slide on record as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and related measures, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Friday.
In the month of April the average trust rating dropped by 19.6 points to 74.8.
The last time that the trust rating dropped below 80.0 points was at the height of the financial crisis in March of 2009.
There has been a steep drop in the confidence rating both on the part of businesses (by 19.3 points to 73.8) and consumers (by 20.4 points to 80.1).
Temperatures are expected to fall to around 15 degrees on Saturday, with cloudy skies expected across the cuntry. However, meteorologists do not expect rainfall.