There is no exception for smoking to the rule for wearing a mask covering the mouth and nose anywhere outside the home in the Czech Republic. People smoking without a mask in place face a fine of up to 10,000 CZK, and in exceptional cases 20,000 CZK.
Police and health authorities both confirm that this is the case, and has been since the emergency measures requiring a mask took effect.
In Prague, smokers without masks are dealt with by both Municipal Police and other civil guards. They can impose a fine of up to 10,000 CZK on the spot, and in some instances can refer the case to a higher authority. “They can subsequently impose a fine of up to 20,000 CZK,” Prague Municipal Police spokeswoman Irena Seifertová said, according to daily Pražský deník,
The Health Ministry said there could be some exceptions, but not on a street or other place where people might pass by. “We recommend taking the mask off when needed, such as for tobacco use, only where it will not be possible to endanger other citizens,” Jitka Nováčková from the Health Ministry press department said.
Central Bohemian hygienist Dana Šalamunová takes a more hardline view. “According to the emergency measure, in public, that is to say, outside the place of residence, the mouth and nose must be covered. Therefore, smokers should only smoke in private,” Dana Šalamunová said.
“If a smoker follows the extraordinary measure, he or she cannot smoke in the presence of other people,” Šalamunová said, adding that if you are in a park and someone passes by, you can endanger that person with the risk of coronavirus.
A mask has been required in public spaces since March 18, expanding on a March 16 rule requiring it for public transit and March 17 rule for shops. But it has been a common sight to see people with masks down around their necks, smoking near a doorway.
Since face masks have been in short supply, people can also use a scarf, shawl, bandana, or similar item to cover the nose and mouth. Cloth is the preferred material. Masks can also be sewn or folded out of T-shirts or other cloth items.
The Health Ministry has also instructed citizens to keep a distance of at least two meters between each other if possible.
It is also now forbidden to be in public in groups of more than two, with the exception of people living in the same household, attendees of funeral services and people congregating for work.
People in the Czech Republic are among the heaviest smokers in the world, and almost one-fifth of all deaths in the Czech Republic is attributed to smoking cigarettes.