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The Czech government has declared a quarantine for the whole country starting from midnight of March 15th (Sunday-Monday), due to the spread of new coronavirus. The ban on free movement does not apply to travel to work or medical facilities, essential family trips, or trips for food and basic necessities.

Czech Rep., Mar 15 (BD) – “We are heading for a fundamental measure … Probably the maximum one,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on TV Prima on Sunday afternoon. He mentioned the possibility of another extension to the current state of emergency with stricter measures, a nationwide quarantine, as he explained later during the interview. In the evening, the government met and decided to accept 15 new measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

From 12am on March 16th, to 6am on March 24th, a nationwide quarantine will be in place with the following exceptions: travelling to work; essential visits to relatives and other close people; visiting doctors, or accompanying relatives and other close people; purchasing indispensable goods and products (food, medicine, cosmetics and other medical aids); trips to petrol stations (and other fuels); volunteering; trips in case of emergency; and using public services. The use of essential banking and postal services is also permitted.

People who work in healthcare, public transport or national infrastructure are also exempt from these restrictions. At the same time, Health Minister Adam Vojtech suspended leave for doctors.

People can still go for walks outside and in public parks and buy food and drink from windows, but the government recommends limiting contact with other people as much as possible. “We are trying to minimize interpersonal contact. It’s not a curfew, it’s not a house arrest,” said Interior Minister Jan Hamacek. 

People should keep two metres distance from each other and use contactless payments. Shops should enable enough space and adopt stricter hygiene measures.

Public offices should limit their opening hours. Elections to the Senate will be postponed. The police will be supported by the army and customs officials.

Employers should enable staff to work from home and limit unnecessary work.

In photo: Members of the government inform the public about further measures against the spread of coronavirus, March 13, 2020. Credit: Vlada.cz.

Finance Minister Alena Schillerova announced relief on several tax obligations, and several deadlines will be postponed (further reports to follow); the next wave of EET (electronic evidence of sales), Schillerova announced a special “tolerance period” of three months during which the new rules will not be enforced.

The government also further clarified the list of businesses that can remain in operation; for example, car repair services are still allowed to open. On the other hand, accommodation facilities, driving schools, and taxi services (except those delivering food and licensed taxi services) will be banned as of midnight. Karel Havlicek, Minister of Industry and Trade, announced the suspension of blue zones in the cities (that mark residential parking) as of midnight on Sunday.

The new measures will be enforced by police.

Businesses will be able to apply for special zero-interest loans from March 16th.

On Sunday, the Czech Republic saw its biggest one-day rise in the number of confirmed cases since the epidemic began in the country. The number increased by 33% to 293.

Reports from Brno Daily giving further details of the new rules will follow in the coming days.

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