Government unveils five-stage plan to reopen businesses

Photo: ČTK/Kateřina Šulová

After a month of tight restrictions aimed at curbing the COVID-19 epidemic, the Czech government has announced a comprehensive plan under which it will gradually restore business and service sector activity. This will take place over five stages, culminating with the re-opening of hotels, restaurants and shopping malls in June.

Karel Havlíček,  photo: ČTK/Ondřej Deml
Restaurants, almost all shops and many other facilities in the Czech Republic have been closed for just over a month, as part of the government efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

With infection rates still at relatively low in this country, growing calls for a timetable under which things would get back to normal were met on Tuesday, when the government announced a detailed plan.

Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček detailed some of the steps that Czechs can expect.

“We have divided business activity groups into five time slots. From April 20, all crafts facilities, car dealerships and farmers’ markets can reopen. Professional sportsmen will be allowed to continue in sporting activities and weddings attended by up to 10 individuals will be allowed.”

The week after that, starting April 27, shops up to 200 square meters that are not located in large shopping centres will be allowed to open.

From May 11 shops up to 1,000 square meters outside of large shopping malls will also get the green light to re-open. So will certain services, such as driving schools and fitness centres, although changing room and shower use in the latter will be forbidden.

Late May and early June will then see the final stages of the government plan, said Minister Havlíček.

“From May 25, outdoor services in restaurants and cafes, as well as hairdressers, pedicures and various similar cosmetic services will be allowed to open. This lifting of restrictions also counts for museums, galleries and zoos, the latter with closed pavilions.

Photo: ČTK/Kateřina Šulová
“Two weeks after that, from June 8 – although more may be added, depending on how things develop – indoor restaurant spaces will be allowed to open too, as well as shopping malls over the size of 5,000 square meters and hotels.

“Furthermore, non-licensed taxi services and tattoo parlours will be allowed to operate again. Finally, this date also includes the opening of castles, theatres and other cultural activities, although under clearly specified conditions.”

Mr Havlíček stressed that while this is the government’s timeline, it does reserve the right to adjust dates, depending on further developments relating to the coronavirus spread.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Robert Plaga said that school activity will be reinstated ahead of the summer holidays, but only partly. Entrance and final exams will go ahead, but no sooner than June.

Final year university students are likely to see school education first, but lessons will take place in groups no larger than five. This group could be followed from May 11 by high school and elementary school students, again only final years. Some first level elementary school students could begin attending classroom hours from May 25, in groups no larger than 15.

Since Tuesday Czechs are also allowed to travel abroad under special circumstances such as business trips, medical treatment and exceptional family reasons.