Face masks to return in Czech Republic with schools reopening

Foto: Michaela Danelová, archiv ČRo

The Czech Health Ministry has announced that the wearing of face masks will become compulsory in most enclosed spaces, as well as in public transport and education facilities from September 1. The announcement comes ahead of the reopening of schools in the country, which is to be guided by a special Education Ministry manual on coronavirus safety measures.

After a two-month summer spell where Czechs were more or less free of having to cover their face, unless they lived in an area designated as a COVID-19 hotspot, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch announced a significant change on Monday.

“From September 1, 2020, it will become compulsory to wear face masks on all public transport in the Czech Republic. That includes inter-city travel. It will also be compulsory to wear face masks in indoor spaces.”

Adam Vojtěch,  photo: archive of the Office of Czech Government

Although less wide-ranging than in the spring lockdown period, the new measure will make it obligatory for people to wear a face mask in all internal spaces, except restaurants, offices, or other working environments. Those who visit any indoor public gatherings, as well as shops, supermarkets, or public buildings, will have to cover their face.

Furthermore, starting next week, people required to quarantine themselves will only have to do so for 10 days instead of the current two-week period, the Health Minister announced.

The decision to implement the new rules from the beginning of next month comes in conjunction with the reintroduction of regular school attendance from September – the traditional start date of the academic year.

Children in school will also be obliged to wear masks, except when they are in their classrooms, Education Minister Robert Plaga said on Tuesday.

“The good news is that schools are re-entering standard service from September 1. That means there are no limitations to class size and it will not be necessary for pupils to supply a negative COVID-19 test.

“As far as hygiene standards are concerned, the regime will be the same one we used in the spring. That means increased hygiene and frequent airing of classrooms. The basic hygiene standards will be the same as they are currently for the whole of Czech society.”

Photo: Pexels / CC0

The new rules have been sent to every school in a special manual, Mr. Plaga said.

“All of the recommendations in the manual, supplied by local hygienic offices and the Ministry of Health, are aimed at minimising the occurrence and preventing the spread [of COVID-19]. If a case is detected in a school, the aim is to minimise the quarantine impact on the daily running of the institution.”

In case some schools are forced to close due to a local outbreak, the government has also approved CZK 1.3 billion of investment into ICT, software and distance learning programmes. Part of the money will be made available to students, who do not have the necessary conditions for distance learning at home, if need be, Mr. Plaga said.