Czech Post is already honoring those who are on the front line in the coronavirus crisis with stamps depicting face masks.
The design by artist Filip Heyduk has six colorful cloth masks spread over two stamps. Each of the masks has a symbol for a type of essential worker. A red cross is for healthcare professionals, a bugle for postal workers, camouflage for the military, blue and yellow stripes for police, a fire outline for the fire brigade, and polka dots for volunteers, delivery people and everyone else who helped others. The stamps also carry the text “we thank you” (děkujeme).
“In the Czech Republic, the first case of coronavirus appeared in early March. Subsequently, the government ordered multiple measures to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the new type of coronavirus. One of these regulations introduced the obligation to wear face masks in public. Since then, face masks have not only become a symbol of these days, but also a phenomenon that illustrates the current situation better than anything else,” the Czech Post (Česká pošta) said in a press release.
The stamp’s face value is identified with a letter B, corresponding with a domestic ordinary letter for up to 50 grams, or currently 19 CZK. Some 15,000 sheets were printed, with 50 stamps (25 pairs) per sheet, making a total of 750,000 stamps.
Czech Post had to limit many of its normal operations during the state of emergency, and had reduced hours in many branches. A special cancellation mark for Easter was not used this year, as there was a lack of staff to do so.
But they also offered an additional service. Starting at the end of March, Czech Post delivered face masks free of charge. This way, people could make masks from cloth and send them without having to go to the post office and wait in a line, ricking contact with infected people. In the first two weeks of the service, some 160,000 packages of masks were sent without postage.
Czech Post also maintained essential services in quarantined areas such as delivering pensions, and also offered contactless delivery.
While the face mask stamps are valid for sending letters, many will likely end up as collectors items. This is a good way for Czech Post to raise money. If the stamp is never used, then the Czech Post does not have to deliver on the service that was paid for.
New stamp designs are issued on a regular basis. Recent ones this year included songbirds, poisonous mushrooms, the honeybee, postal uniforms, postal routes, Kašperk Castle, the 500th anniversary of he tolar coin and 100 years of constitutional justice. Notable personalities have also been honored including architect Josef Gočár, graphic artist Vladimír Suchánek, painter Josef Liesler, conductor Václav Neumann and writer Josef Čapek,
The stamp is not the first commemoration of the face mask phenomenon. The National Museum on May 25 launched an exhibition of homemade masks.
Face coverings first became required as of March 17 for use on Prague’s public transit, and the next day they were required at workplaces including shops and stores, health and social facilities, headquarters of public authorities and other premises. On March 19 they were required at all times when outside the home. Rules have since been relaxed but they are still required on public transit.