New restrictions introduced as Czech Covid numbers shoot up

Covid-19 numbers in the Czech Republic are again growing at an alarming rate, with Tuesday and Wednesday seeing double the new cases as the same days last week. The government has responded with fresh measures, including mandatory respirators at workplaces and Covid certificate checks at spots like bars.

While Czech Covid numbers had been creeping up recently, this week they have soared.

In response the minister of health, Adam Vojtěch, announced new measures on Wednesday afternoon, the first of which takes effect from the start of next week.

“From October 25 it will be compulsory to cover the nose and mouth, which means to wear respirators, in all indoor spaces, including places of work. At present there is an exception if a collective is stable and they don’t have to wear respirators. But from October 25 that exception will no longer apply.”

Respirators must also be worn at all mass events.

It is easy to see why the Czech government has taken action.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday over 3,000 new cases were recorded, doubling the tallies seen on the same days last week.

The coronavirus reproduction number has risen to 1.65 and hospitalisations are also rising fast.

Adam Vojtěch | Photo: Kateřina Šulová,  ČTK

On Wednesday 726 Covid patients were receiving specialist care (114 critical), which is the highest number seen since May.

Further acceleration is expected in the very near future, with the Czech Covid situation now corresponding to what officials call a “risk scenario”.

The Czech Republic introduced Covid certificates several months ago, when they were rolled out across Europe.

However, unlike in some other countries, staff at restaurants, bars, night clubs and other indoor facilities have not generally been checking the certificates, which state either that the bearer has been vaccinated against Covid or has tested positive for it in the previous six months.

But that will change from November 1, when patrons will be required to produce Covid certificates on entry.

Minister Vojtěch said he believed operators would not resist this plan.

“I think they understand why we’re introducing this obligation. Because they are the places where community transmission can occur. This exists in other countries. Anybody who has been recently abroad – in Germany, Austria, France or Italy – knows that this requirement is in place. So it is nothing out of the ordinary in the European context.”

In addition health insurers will no longer cover Covid testing for non-medical purposes from the start of next month, a move that is intended to nudge more Czechs toward getting vaccinated.

At present just over six million people are fully vaccinated in a population of 10.7 million.

Some regional public health offices and regional governments have recommended that schools declare extra holidays at the beginning of next week, extending three-day autumn holidays that get underway on Wednesday, in view of the Covid situation.