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Czech borders may remain closed for the next two years, says top official

Czech Crisis Staff head Roman Prymula told Czech Television today that border restrictions in the Czech Republic over the coronavirus situation may last up to two years

Czech Crisis Staff head Roman Prymula told Czech Television today that border restrictions in the Czech Republic over the coronavirus situation may last up to two years, and largely depend on the management of the epidemic in other countries in Europe and across the globe, reports the Czech News Agency and Novinky.cz.

While the situation in the Czech Republic is thought to improve from mid-April, estimates aren’t as optimistic for other countries in Europe.

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“The situation in other European countries will not be good,” Prymula told Czech Television.

“There it will take months and long months.”

According to Prymula, international travel will most likely be limited for the next year or two, and Czech residents should count on taking their summer holidays within the Czech Republic this year.

Prymula’s statements were supported by Czech Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch.

“The point is to avoid having a second or third wave of the epidemic, so that people from other countries such as Italy, France, Spain, Germany, do not begin to flow [into the Czech Republic],” he told Czech Television.

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“I do not want to provide false optimism, but I hope that it will be possible to keep the number to 10,000 [infected with coronavirus],” Prymula added. “We are able to operate effectively with up to 15,000 [cases].”

He also stated that precautionary steps taken by the Czech Republic have seemed to have a positive impact on the situation.

“I don’t want to overestimate, but when everyone looks at the increase [in cases], we managed to fix it to less than the initial 45%, which was better than in Italy. We are able to flatten the curve.”

The Czech borders have largely been closed for the past week, with exceptions for necessary freight and cargo transport, and for residents who live near the border and commute to work. They require daily documentation to leave, however.

Prymula has also said that commuting across the border should be banned in some localities, and that he would propose this to the government on Monday.

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He further stated that if the number of infections does not exceed 8,500 by the end of March, it would be possible to ease the current restrictions on movement within the country during the following 10 days. This could theoretically take place place by the Easter holiday (April 12-13).

Opposition politicians said Prymula’s statement was shocking and unfortunate. They questioned if the Central Crisis Staff should be headed by a civil servant and not a politician.

“I understand and support the ban on travelling during current culmination of the epidemic. But scaring people with two years, this must not be a decision of an epidemiologist, however prominent,” Vit Rakusan, leader of the opposition STAN party, tweeted.

The government should present any data suggesting such a scenario, he added, if they have any.

Prymula’s statement was “shocking”, said  TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek.

The statement has presented the urgent question of whether it was right that the emergency staff is headed by a person without political responsibility, Kalousek said.

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What was said is quite quite unfortunate, TOP 09 leader Marketa Adamova Pekarova said. There is no time for pessimistic scenarios now, she added.

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