Shops Could Reopen Next Monday with Extra Hygiene Measures

The Government Council for Health Risks has approved a proposal to reopen stores next Monday. Shops may be allowed to reopen under the condition that store staff wear FFP2 respirators. Customers will not be required to wear respirators, but are encouraged to do so. The proposal awaits approval by the Czech government. Photo: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade and Transport K. Havlíček at a press conference, 14 February 2021. Credit:    

Czech Rep., Feb 16 (BD) – The Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček and Health Minister Jan Blatný (both ANO) have agreed that shops could reopen under certain conditions from Monday, February 22nd. The plan was approved by the Government Council for Health Risks on Tuesday morning and will be discussed by the Czech government on Friday morning.

“Following the agreement of the Government Council for Health Risks, this proposal is acceptable, provided that store staff are required to use FFP2-based respirators. This will also include shopping centers,” said Havlíček.  

“The date for the opening of stores should be announced by the government at least two days in advance,” said Tomáš Prouza, President of the Confederation of Trade and Tourism. 

Customers will not have to wear respirators, but Havlíček encouraged customers to wear them and suggested that they could be given out for free when entering a shop or together with a purchase. “We don’t want to make so many restrictions, but we want to motivate people a bit more,” he added. Retail hygiene measures limit the number of customers allowed in stores to one person per 15 square metres; customers should also keep a distance from others and use disinfectant. 

Shops that could reopen next Monday include clothing and footwear stores, furniture shops, bookstores and specialized shops. Due to the anti-epidemic measures, shops have been closed since October 22nd, with a brief reopening for three weeks in December. Exceptions were made for food stores, pharmacies, drugstores, opticians, haberdasheries and florists. 

“The opening of retail stores is a significant shift. It’s a big psychological break. After a long time, people will see the light at the end of the tunnel. We will proceed slowly, and if we manage it, it’s a great sign that we will be able to continue. I am convinced that we can do it together,” said Havlíček.

The gradual reopening of shops, services and sporting activities was one of the conditions set by the Association of the Regions (AKČR) to accompany the request for a two-week extension of the state of emergency, which the government agreed to meet. The reopening of services and ski resorts has not yet been confirmed.

According to Prouza, the reopening of stores may be an attempt to preempt an upcoming ruling by the Constitutional Court. Last November, 63 senators complained to the court that the closure of retail stores was discriminatory, and the court is due to make a decision on the issue on February 22nd. Prouza said that if the court rules that the regulation was unconstitutional, the government will be obliged to offer compensation to small retailers that were closed.

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