Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Czech Republic to reopen international rail and bus transport from May 11; phased COVID-19 recovery continues.

This alert affects Czech Republic

This alert began 04 May 2020 21:12 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Easing of restrictions; business and travel disruptions remain

Summary
Authorities in Czech Republic announced on May 4 that they plan to reopen international rail and bus transport from May 11; the ban on international public transport was introduced on March 14 in order to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. As of April 24, Czech citizens are permitted to leave the country, though they must be tested for COVID-19 or quarantine upon re-entry. As of April 27, EU citizens are permitted to enter the country for business or study purposes, provided they can produce evidence they do not have COVID-19 or agree to be quarantined for 14 days; most other foreigners remain barred from entry.

Czech lawmakers previously extended the nation's state of emergency related to COVID-19 until May 17. The government is continuing its phased COVID-19 recovery plan, which currently envisions a gradual easing of a significant number of restrictions by May 25.

The first phase of their recovery plan was launched on April 24, lifting the ban on nonessential movement and allowing residents to gather in groups of up to 10 in public, and up to 15 for religious gatherings, provided that they observe social distancing by remaining two meters (6.5 feet) apart. Face masks remain compulsory in public. Businesses with less than 2,500 square meters (27,000 square feet) of floor space are permitted to reopen, as are some fitness and sports centers.

Most other nonessential establishments remain closed for the time being, though authorities have laid out a timetable for reopening further businesses, cultural, and leisure facilities. Implementation of future recovery stages is contingent upon no major increase in disease activity over the coming weeks. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by the Czech government are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent weeks, in response to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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