Along with ongoing efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus in Prague, Prague City Hall has just announced a ban on travel on public transportation for riders who aren’t wearing protective face masks.
From today, a strict quarantine is in effect across the Czech Republic that bans travel except under certain circumstances, which includes going to and from work. Many Prague residents use public transport to get to work.
From tonight at midnight (March 17 at 0:00), all riders on Prague’s public transport are required to wear protective face masks.
Riders do not need to use an official medical mask. Makeshift face masks using scarves or similar material are acceptable.
Riders only need to ensure that their nose and mouth are covered at all times when using public transportation in Prague.
“On Prague public transport, it is mandatory to have a covered mouth and nose! Whether you have medical masks, self-made masks, or use a scarf, anything is better than nothing,” wrote Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib on Twitter.
V pražské MHD už jen povinně se zakrytými ústy a nosem! ?
Ať už máte zdravotnické roušky, vlastnoručně vyrobené roušky nebo využijete třeba šálu – všechno je lepší než nic! Nařízení platí o půlnoci z pondělí na úterý.
— Zdeněk Hřib (@ZdenekHrib) March 16, 2020
At a press conference announcing the decision, Hřib said that riders will be informed about the new measures via information boards and radio in metro stations.
He also mentioned that passengers would only face a reproof for violating the ban, though he expects most to observe it.
“I expect people to observe the ban, nevertheless, as it is vital for their health,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr also announced the measures via Facebook:
“The measure will take effect from midnight from Monday to Tuesday,” he writes.
“Let us all be considerate and enter public transport only with our face covered. Passengers can wear a veil, scarf or bandana.”
The Czech Republic currently has a shortage of medical face masks and respirators in the country, though shipments from abroad are on their way.
Czech entrepreneur Petr Ludwig has released a YouTube video with English captions detailing how to make your own improvised face mask at home:
Prague’s public transport authority DPP has installed stands at metro stations with disinfection gel, and has started to clean vehicles more intensively.
DPP has restricted the operation of bus lines, while metro and trams operate as usual.
In the past days, Prague has banned people from getting on public transport buses through the front doors, separating the driver from passengers. Unlike in buses, tram and metro drivers are separated from passengers in special cabs.
This is a developing story. We will update with more information as it becomes available.