Prague, March 6 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) called on people in the country not to go to Italy due to the coronavirus outbreak and those who would return from Italy should stay at home for two weeks, he tweeted today.
“This preventive measure is unavoidable in order to prevent an uncontrolled outbreak in the Czech Republic,” Babis said on Twitter after meeting Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula.
The Association of Czech travel agencies criticised Babis’s decision. Its head Jan Papez said the call on Czechs not to go anywhere in Italy is nonsense as there has been no ban on the visits of Italians to the Czech Republic.
Papez told Czech Television (CT) that he considers Babis’s decision populism.
Czech travel agencies will wait for the recommendation of the Foreign Ministry that is determinant for them, Papez said.
The Foreign Ministry recommended to people on its website this morning to suspend any visits to northern Italy.
Babis also asked employers to let their employees who should be in home quarantine after their return from Italy to work from home for two weeks if possible.
“We will of course deal with the economic impacts, but the health of our citizens and prevention of the outbreak is the top priority now,” he said.
Babis is talking about the situation with the regional governors and the Prague mayor at the Government Office building today. The governors are interested in the central distribution of medical materials or the financing of ambulances, among others.
The Czech state recently recommended that the citizens do not travel to the northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Piemont and Veneto and it suspended flights to northern Italy and South Korea on Thursday. Airlines cancelled about 70 flights between five northern Italian cities and Czechia, originally planned for the next two weeks.
The government halted direct flights to China already some time ago.
Nearly 3900 people have got infected with coronavirus and 148 have died of it in Italy, according to the Thursday data.
All 12 people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Czechia so far either visited Italy or were in contact with those infected. Many Czechs go skiing to Italy during the winter season. The last part of Czech schoolchildren will have their one-week winter holidays next week.