Traffic light map changing from Monday as Czechs join EU system

Source: Czech Foreign Ministry

From Monday the Czech Republic will classify virtually all other EU states as either medium or high risk on its “traffic light” map. This means people entering the country from most other members will need to enter quarantine or provide a negative Covid-19 test.

The European Union recently introduced uniform criteria for assessing the risk of Covid-19, using the kind of colour-coded traffic light system that has become so familiar to many.

The European Commission said this makes it clearer to Europeans where they can travel and what rules they need to follow.

From Monday the Czech Republic is joining the system, under which risk levels are reassessed and updated at the end of each week.

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček presented it at a news conference on Wednesday.

“All countries will be at least orange. In the case of orange states, travel is free. However, long term workers will need to travel to the Czech Republic with negative tests; this doesn’t apply to cross-border workers but, for instance, to seasonal workers. At present this applies to Germany, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Cyprus and Greece.”

Tomáš Petříček,  photo: Michaela Danelová / Czech Radio

Mr. Petříček also said the government favoured a uniform testing regime.

“A second area that we are currently focused on is simplifying testing for the purposes of travel. The European Commission recommends that as well as mutually respecting PCR testing, member states should make more use of antigen tests for travel. The Czech Republic supports this unequivocally. When the second wave subsides, we would like this to make travel easier within the EU.”

Getting back to the traffic light system, people returning to the Czech Republic or entering as visitors from countries classed as red, or high risk, will need to show a negative Covid-19 test or enter quarantine for a period of 10 days.

They will also need to fill in a form for public health officials, a requirement that is already in place. The majority of other states will be red.

Under the unified European system, cross border workers may also enter the Czech Republic without a test, provided they have been outside the country for less than 12 hours.

In practical terms, people will only be able to take short trips to Poland and Saxony, which allow visitors from risk states, including the Czech Republic, to spend up to 24 hours on their territory.

Neighbouring states Germany, Austria and Slovakia already require almost all people travelling from the Czech Republic to produce a negative test or self-isolate.

Up to now, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs had used its own methodology for determining risk of infection in individual countries. It had not changed its traffic light map since September.

Incidentally only one state will be green once the new EU traffic light system is adopted by the Prague government: the Vatican.