Breaking: Czech Republic extends quarantine measures to April 1

The Czech government has confirmed today that restrictions on free movement of people and other measures have been extended until April 1

Quarantine measures currently in place in the Czech Republic, which include a restriction on the free movement of people and a requirement to wear face coverings in both indoor and outdoor spaces, have officially been extended until April 1, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček just announced at a press briefing this afternoon.

This also means that businesses including restaurants, cafes, and pubs, will need to remain closed to the public through at least April 1. Many restaurants in Prague still offer take-away or delivery, however.

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The measures are in place as part of a general state of emergency in the Czech Republic as the country attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus infections.

The original quarantine measures were only valid until March 24, but the extension to that deadline was agreed upon today.

Since March 16, residents of the Czech Republic have been required to only travel when absolutely necessary: to work, to acquire essentials, to volunteer to help others, to visit health and social services facilities, and for necessary visits to see family.

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The Czech Republic was only the fourth country in Europe – after Italy, Spain and Austria – to have limited free movement of its residents when it implemented the measures last Monday. A  ban on going out without a face covering followed days later.

One of the few exceptions to the nationwide quarantine was for Czech residents living within 50 kilometers of a border, who drove across the border to work abroad; they were allowed to continue to do so, but required daily paperwork.

Now, the government recommends anyone who falls within that category find temporary accommodation in their country of work for at least the next three weeks rather than commute daily. Upon return to the Czech Republic, they will be subject to a full 14-day quarantine.

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In addition to the extension of quarantine measures, officials announced one more change to the two-hour window during which only senior citizens are allowed to shop at grocery stores, pharmacies, and other stores still allowed to operate.

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While initially 10:00 – 12:00, that window was changed to 7:00 – 9:00; but it now stands at 8:00 – 10:00 to allow anyone commuting to work to stop for necessary items before arriving to the office.

New from tomorrow, however, will be that the two-hour window will only apply to larger supermarkets, and not small convenience stores.

It is expected by many that the measures will continue to be extended through mid-April before being relaxed.

Additionally at today’s press briefing, Finance Minister Alena Schillerová announced a number of economic moves intended to ease the financial burden of the coronavirus measures on small business and self-employed persons.

They include a six-month exemption on the minimum social insurance payments for self-employed persons, suspending electronic EET sales records, and postponing the deadline for filing real estate acquisition tax returns to August 31.

Officials also updated the total number of confirmed coronavirus infection at today’s briefing, from yesterday evening’s 1,120 to 1,236, an increase of 116 in the past 24 hours.

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This is a breaking news item; we will update with more information as soon as possible.

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