Czech Health Minister: Face masks to be mandatory in classrooms, pubs closed after midnight

Most Czech districts will likely be given elevated risk statuses in the Health Ministry's next traffic light map, to be released tomorrow

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 17.09.2020 13:43 (updated on 20.09.2020)

Students in classrooms across the Czech Republic will be required to wear face masks in the latest effort to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the Czech Republic, Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch has stated a a press conference this afternoon.

Previously, Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib had mentioned instituting the regulation in the Czech capital; it will instead apply across the country.

The regulation for students to wear masks will apply to all schools with the exception of 1st to 5th grade, meaning the early years of primary schools will be exempted from wearing face masks during classes, but students will still need to have them in common areas.

Previously, all students were exempted from the requirement to wear a face mask under the Czech Republic’s regulations on wearing face masks indoors.

The new regulations for masks in classrooms will take effect from Friday.

Officials revealed that 20% of the new cases have been tied back to the spread of COVID-19 at schools, which is why they have implemented the new requirement to wear face masks in classrooms.

“The epidemiological situation is not good, the epidemic is gaining momentum,” Vojtěch stated, coming across more serious than he has during past press conferences.

“The number of hospitalized people is also growing.”

The Health Minister also urged people to download the new eRouška 2.0 app, which will be released on Friday can greatly assist in contact tracing. He advised companies not to organize large groupings of people such as parties or teambuilding events.

Most Czech districts will be given “green” low-risk status in the Health Ministry’s next traffic light map of COVID-19 risk, to be released tomorrow, while eleven are likely to be “orange” medium-risk, Vojtěch stated.

This means that some of the regulations only in force in Prague will be extended to the rest of the country. This includes the requirement for pubs, bars, and other late-night venues to close from the hours of midnight until 6 a.m.

Currently in effect in Prague, the regulation for these businesses to close at midnight will go into effect from Friday night.

At the press conference from the Health Ministry this afternoon, officials also shared some scary-looking statistics. The worst of those was an estimate for 3.6 million people in the country to become infected with COVID-19 by the end of the year, including 2 million in December alone, if the appropriate measures were not taken.

Yesterday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country since that start of the outbreak in March surpassed 40,000. Experts now predict a total of between 44,000-70,000 new cases for September alone.

Officials stated that the Czech healthcare system could handle up to 80,000 cases per month.