Following up on a report from earlier today, the government of the Czech Republic has approved a nationwide quarantine that prohibits much free movement across the Czech Republic in ongoing efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The quarantine goes into effect at midnight tonight (March 16 at 0:00) and will last through March 24 at 6 a.m.
Under the quarantine, anyone living in the Czech Republic will be prohibited from travelling outside their residence except under a number of circumstances which notably include travelling to and from work and necessary journeys to procure food and supplies. See below for a full list of exceptions.
Individuals are also required to limit contact with others to the lowest degree possible. Anyone travelling is instructed to maintain a distance of at least two meters from other people and to use non-cash payments for hygienic reasons.
The sale of unwrapped bread has been restricted in efforts to minimize the risk of contamination.
According to Minister of Industry and Transport Karel Havlíček, accommodation services (both hotels and AirBnB-like services) with the exception of spa and school accommodation facilities have been prohibited. As have driving schools. Blue parking zones restricting parking to residents in Prague and other cities have been temporarily abolished.
Additionally, the operation of taxi services like Uber and Bolt has been suspended, with an exception for the transport food or electronics. Traditional taxi services may still operate, but only for the transport of those travelling under one of the exemptions to the quarantine.
The quarantine measures also recommend that employers facilitate the ability of their employees to work from home if at all possible, and restrict the performance of work to only urgently necessary tasks.
Employers are also recommended to promote paid holidays and paid leave for employees during the quarantine time as specified in work agreements.
Store owners are instructed to observe increased measures for ensuring hygiene, especially disinfection.
2,500 members of the Czech military and customs officers have been recalled to assist Czech police in ensuring the rules of quarantine are adhered to.
Only for the following reasons are individuals permitted to travel under the quarantine:
- To go to work or to pursue business or similar activity.
- “Absolutely” necessary journeys to see family or close relatives.
- To acquire necessary goods for living (food, medicine and medical devices, sanitary goods, cosmetics and other drugstore goods, animal food and other pet supplies) and related needs including banking and postal services.
- To provide such service for another person (e.g. volunteering).
- To travel to health, social, or veterinary care facilities, or escort relatives to such places.
- To attend to urgent official matters, including imprisonment, and to accompany loved ones to such matters.
- To provide services in support of: security, internal order, and crisis management; health protection, health or social care; spiritual care; public transport and other infrastructure; services to the public including supply and distribution; veterinary care.
- To attend funerals.
- To travel back to one’s place of residence.
An exception for going outside for a walk in parks and nature, which was in an earlier draft of the quarantine but not the final version, was also discussed at the press conference held this evening.
“We don’t forbid anyone from taking a walk. It is possible to go to the park or to the countryside,” Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said.
At the same time, he criticized citizens who crowded in front of restaurant entrances after they had been closed to consume snacks and alcohol outside. “That seems irresponsible to me.”
This is a developing story. We will add more information as it becomes available.