Pictured: Sněžka Hill, Krkonoše, Czech Republic

Czech national parks reopening visitor centers, restoring services during May and June

National park visitors will still have to wear face coverings and stay in groups under 10 people

National parks across the Czech Republic are gearing up to return to normal operation as coronavirus measures are relaxed. During May and June, information and tourist centers in Czech national parks will gradually open in compliance with security measures.

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“Based on the gradual dismantling of preventive measures, the Environment Ministry has some welcome news. National parks and accessible caves are ready to gradually return to giving visitors the full range of services they are accustomed to, but of course in compliance with the current hygienic standards, guaranteeing maximum health protection for us all,” Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) said in a press release.

“The Environment Ministry expects tourists to protect nature with the same passion that they protect themselves. Reports of man-made fires, the disturbance of breeding of rare and protected species, or the dumping of waste in the wild are unfortunately alarming,” he added.

Šumava National Park Administration director Pavel Hubený said that from May 1 parts of the Srní Visitor Center, featuring an enclosure with wolves, and the Kvilda Visitor Center, with a vantage point to see deer, will reopen. “We will operate all enclosures, including sanitary facilities and car lots, every day from 8:30 am to 4 pm,”Hubený said.

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Peat bog in Šumava national park, Bohemian forest in the Czech Republic

The buildings of the Šumava visitor centers and information centers, with newly installed protective plexiglass barriers, will be opened gradually during May and June. In addition, registration for rafting on the Vltava is already running for visitors.

If river conditions allow it, the first rafting will be possible on June 1. From mid-May, the Šumava National Park administration will also launch the registration system for adventure expeditions to the most remote corners of Šumava.

Krkonoše National Park Administration director Robin Böhnisch said all information centers will open May 1, the Krkonoše Museums under their administration 10 days later. “Until the end of June, tours will be possible only individually, that is, without a guide. Public events will start at the earliest after May 25, of course only for a limited number of registered participants and again while maintaining the basic rules of health safety,” Böhnisch said.

The Bohemian Switzerland National Park (Národní park České Švýcarsko) information centers in Krásná Lípa, Dolní Chřibská and Jetřichovice will open May 1 and be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

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“If there is no unexpected reversal in the development of the coronavirus situation, it could return to full operation in June. All tourist destinations are available to visitors here, with the exception of sailing on barges through the Kamenice gorges. Currently, however, the national park is prohibited from allowing visitors off marked hiking trails due to the high fire risk,” NPČŠ Administration director Pavel Benda said. Bohemian Switzerland gets its name from its rocky landscape, which resembles parts of Switzerland.

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Gabrielina stezka in Czech Switzerland. via NP České Švýcarsko

Podyjí National Park will reopen its Čížov visitor center only on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9 am to 5 pm. The outdoor and indoor areas of the visitor center will be open, with the exception of the interactive exhibition.

Podyjí National Park Administration director Tomáš Rothröckl said visitors can travel on all marked hiking and cycling trails. “We would like to draw your attention to the observance of the ban on entry by motor vehicles throughout the park, which can only be parked in car lots and in permitted parking areas. Undisciplined drivers are subject to possible sanctions. Due to the ongoing nesting period and the time of the young, it is necessary to behave silently and considerately in the field, with pets only on a leash,” he added.

Czech Cave Administration director Lubomír Přibyl said 14 accessible caves will open on the same date as Czech castles and chateaux. “It should probably be on May 25, at the same time we plan to start operating the information center at the Upper Bridge of the Macocha Abyss (Horní můstek nad Macochou). The Cave Administration information center at Skalní mlýn in the Moravian Karst will be available to visitors from Monday, May 4,” he said.

Several parks straddle national borders. People shouldn’t expect much to visit the adjoining national parks of our neighbors yet. It is not possible to visit Austria’s Thayatal National Park from the Podyjí side or to cross the border from the Bohemian Switzerland into the German side until further notice.

Poland has its borders closed until May 3, including the “green border.” Movement from Krkonoše to the Polish side are therefore closed until then. The Polish–Czech Friendship Trail (Cesta česko-polského přátelství) is no exception.

There are only two official border crossings in the whole area of the Šumava National Park. It is possible to get to the German side under specific conditions at Železná Ruda-Alžbětín and Strážný. Crossing in other places is forbidden.

Adherence to the all safety measures against the spread of the new coronavirus as well as all general the rules visiting the national park still apply.

These include the obligation to cover your nose and mouth, not to form groups of more than 10 people and to observe two-meter social distancing. Disinfectants and disposable gloves will be available to visitors before entering the information centers. Information centers will be equipped with, for example, a transparent partition or outdoor dispensing windows. When making a purchase, people are asked to use contactless card payments.

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