Fresh measures: Night curfew, Sunday shop closures and more work from home

Illustrative photo: Markus Winkler, Pixabay / CC0

As Covid-19 numbers continue to climb at an alarming rate in the Czech Republic, the government has introduced yet more measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. These include a nighttime curfew, the Sunday closure of shops and the increased use of work from home.

Photo: Michaela Danelová, Czech Radio

The Czech Republic currently has one of the worst per capita rates of Covid-19 infection in the world, while some recent days have seen over 100 deaths.

Just last Thursday restrictions aimed at curbing non-essential contact were introduced and most shops were ordered to close.

However, those measures soon proved inadequate and on Monday night the government introduced yet more.

Roman Prymula, photo: Archive of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic

Health Minister Roman Prymula, who appears set to stand down this week, announced them at a news conference following lengthy cabinet talks.

“One of the key measures, which will enter force from October 28 and remain in place until November 3, prohibits the free movement of people on the territory of the Czech Republic in the period from 21:00 to 4:59, with logical exceptions.”

November 3 is when the current state of emergency ends, though the cabinet is asking the lower house to extend it.

Photo: Mabel Amber, Pixabay / CC0

As for the exceptions, these include going to and from work and responding to crisis situations. People may also walk their dogs within 500 metres of their homes.

The government also wants people to travel far less to their place of employment, said Mr. Prymula.

“I’d like to mention one more measure, and that is the introduction of work from home, which should be mandated wherever it is at all possible. This should apply to both state and public structures and private companies. Wherever it is possible, staff should switch to work from home.”

Photo: Rupert Kittinger-Sereinig, Pixabay / CC0

Among the other measures laid out, the shops that are still allowed to open (the list of exceptions is long) must now pull down their shutters at 8 pm at the latest.

In addition, all stores will be barred from opening on Sundays, apart from pharmacies and filling stations.

Farmers’ markets have been in the news after Prime Minister Babiš brandished a photo of a lively one in Prague on Saturday, berating the public for not behaving sensibly.

Such markets may continue but can only sell actual agricultural produce, such as eggs. The consumption of food or drink on site has been banned and visitor numbers will be regulated.

Photo: Lucie Hochmanová, Czech Radio

Another major issue is Czech schools. When they were closed a fortnight ago, Mr. Prymula gave the country’s parents an express promise that their children would be going back at the start of the first week of November.

On Tuesday he announced this would not be the case after all.

At the end of this week officials will set a new return date on the basis of the latest Covid-19 data, the minister said.