As of Monday, life in the Czech Republic is returning to a relative degree of normalcy. A relaxation of government anti-coronavirus restrictions has seen the return of many students to the classroom, and the reopening of some services, cultural and tourist venues. But conditions vary from region to region – depending on the respective rate of infection.
People can now use the services of hairdressers, pedicurists and beauty salons, for example, or take their household pets in for grooming. Tattoo salons and similar non-essential services remain closed for the moment, but rehabilitation services, such as massages, will also start operating. And all stores and services should be able to open on May 10, regardless of the local development of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, in nearly half of the country – the six regions with the lowest coronavirus infection rates (Prague, Hradec Králové, Plzeň, Karlovy Vary, Central Bohemia, Liberec and Pardubice) – students in the upper grades of elementary school are returning to the classes in rotation.
In those six regions, galleries and museums can also open, under strict rules – for instance, group tours are not allowed. For exactly what conditions must customers, visitors and staff comply with, we turn to Czech Radio reporter Jana Švecová, who has been tracking developments.
“Respirators are mandatory for everyone, and customers must maintain a distance of two metres. They can either come to the establishment with confirmation that they have recovered from Covid-19 less than 90 days ago, or they must present a negative test result. The PCR test can be up to 7 days old, antigenic only 3 days.
“People can also use on-the-job testing if they have a certificate to do so. For children, an affidavit of a negative test from school is enough. If they do not have such a possibility, people can – in exceptional cases – be tested directly in the establishment.”
But what constitutes an “exceptional case”? That question was put to Minister of Health Petr Arenberger. He signalled there is quite some leeway, not least for the elderly or infirmed, who may have difficulty getting to a testing site.
“I can imagine a situation where, for example, an older person lives close to the [reopened] establishment, and so it is of course more practical for her to have it done in the hairdresser’s.”
As for hairdressers and the like, operators can serve only one customer at a time or have a distance of at least two metres between places where clients are served. According to Arenberger, service employees will also be able to use self-tests, but these must be administered every day – and they are valid only for that site.
Meanwhile, the vaccination registration system as of Wednesday will be open to people aged 50 and older, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš announced via social media in his regular Sunday video. Registration will also be open to those looking after another person and receiving a special benefit for care, and the inoculation of university and college staff is being prepared. As of June 1 at the latest, Mr Babiš said, all Czech residents over 16 can register.