Czech Government Closes Borders and Makes The Intentional Spread Of Covid-19 a Criminal Offence
Title photo: Adam Vojtech, Czech Minister of Health (ANO) responding to journalists yesterday, on March 12. Credit: Vlada.cz.
Czech Rep., Mar 13 (BD) – The government has expanded mandatory quarantine measures to the whole list of 15 coronavirus “risk countries”. As of midday on Friday, anyone returning to the Czech Republic from these countries must undergo mandatory quarantine. From Monday, all foreigners without temporary or permanent residence in the Czech Republic will be barred from entering the country. The government has also ruled that the intentional spread of coronavirus will be considered a criminal offence.
No travel into the country, no travel out of the country
“We are imposing a ban on entry into the Czech Republic for all foreigners from midnight on March 16th [Sunday-Monday], apart from those with temporary residence over 90 days or permanent residence. The Government has decided to bar Czech citizens and foreigners with permanent or temporary residence from leaving the Czech Republic,” said Prime Minister Andrej Babis at a press conference following Friday’s meeting of the Czech National Security Council.
Exceptions to the travel ban are listed on the website of the Ministry of the Interior, including truck, bus, train and rescue drivers. Babis has assured the public that the food delivery chain will not be interrupted and appealed to people not to stockpile food, as supermarkets and their staff are working at the limit of their capacity. Trucks will now be able to drive on Sundays.
People who work in the border regions within 50 kilometres of the Czech border can continue to commute to work.
Complete information on exceptions, travel limitations and visa arrangements can be found on the website of the Ministry of Interior; the website is updated regularly and is available in English.
According to Seznam.cz, there are currently around 205,000 Czechs abroad in regions affected by the coronavirus.
The government approved a proposal by the Justice Minister Marie Benešová that the spread of Covid-19 will be considered a criminal offense. The maximum punishment for the intentional spread of the disease is a 12-year prison sentence, according to Novinky.cz.
Mandatory quarantine for those returning from “risk countries”
The government has also stipulated mandatory quarantine for all those returning from countries listed as “at risk” under emergency conditions effective 12pm on Friday. Until now, mandatory quarantine has only applied to people returning from Italy.
There are currently 15 countries on the list: China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Norway, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK and Switzerland. At the same time, Babis retracted information published earlier that three further countries had been added to the list. According to Babis, this false information was mistakenly published during updates to the Ministry of Health website.
Closure of swimming pools, markets, tourist centres
From 6am on March 14th, all indoor and outdoor sporting facilities, including ski resorts, will need to apply the limit of 30 people in the venue at one time.
There will be a complete ban on all markets, swimming pools, and tourist centers.
Day care centres and prisons
Day care centers for mentally and physically disabled people will be closed from Monday.
The government will suspend visits to prisons and detention centers from midnight to Saturday. Prisons are particularly susceptible to the rapid spread of Covid-19.
The government has also released CZK 500 million from the national reserves for the Ministry of Health to buy protective products.
Health Minister Adam Vojtech said that medical facilities in the Czech Republic will continue to be supplied with respirators. Vojtech also updated the current number of positive cases in the Czech Republic to 120.
The list of previous measures was published in our previous article: State of Emergency: How Will It Affect You?.