On Monday, August 16, the Czech government has been continually announcing the first new Covid rules starting from September 2021. What covid rules apply to the new school year and how many people will be allowed to sit in the restaurant? Here’s what we know about changes in Covid measures so far!
Mandatory testing: At the beginning of the school year, children have to undergo three rounds of antigen testing – on September 1 or 2, then on September 6 and 9. The testing duty applies to students of elementary and secondary schools. If schools replace antigen tests with a PCR method, only two deadlines will take place. The children can get tested at school or at an official testing point and then deliver their test results to the school. The testing takes place in order to detect the virus among children after the summer holidays. If there are more than 25 positive cases per 100,000 tests performed in one district, testing in these schools will continue once a week until the end of September.
Quarantine: If the antigen test is positive, the child will be sent for a confirmatory PCR test. If it also comes out positive, only this student or his family will go to quarantine. In the last wave of testing (September 9), the entire class may end up in quarantine. The exception will only apply to the vaccinated children and those who have overcome Covid in the last 180 days.
Face masks: The rules for using nose and mouth protection remain the same as at the end of last school year. Wearing face masks is mandatory for everyone – children, pupils, students, employees, visitors – in shared school areas. However, children do not have to wear a mask in the classrooms, when consuming food and drink, or during exercise. According to the Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch, there is a possibility that this rule may change in the event of a positive development of the epidemic situation. However, students who are not tested and cannot prove their Covid status by alternative means (vaccination or proof of contracting the disease in the last 180 days) are required to wear a face mask the entire time they are present in the building, they are not allowed to sing and can practice sports only outdoors (or, alternatively, they can be educated individually at home). However, this restriction only applies for the first 10 days of September until the end of mandatory testing in schools.
Teaching: Based on a recommendation from the Ministry of Health, schools should maintain the homogeneity of groups of children as much as possible and limit the merging of classes or mass school events. For example, discussions and theatre performances should not be held, the movement of strangers in schools should be restricted, and gym classes should take place outside as much as possible.
Distance learning: If more than half of the class is in quarantine or isolation, the school must provide distance learning for children, according to the same rules that were in force last school year. In the case of smaller numbers, the procedure is the same as in normal absence and the school has to provide children with maximum distance learning support.
Closure of schools: According to the Minister of Education, no nationwide closure of schools is planned as part of anti-Covid measures. However, he did not rule out the local closure of individual classes and schools, depending on the epidemic situation.
Preventive tests to remain free: With the worsening epidemiological situation in some European countries, the Ministry of Health has decided that the preventive coronavirus tests will remain free for everyone. Initially, charging for coronavirus tests was supposed to motivate people to get vaccinated. However, according to the Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch, that could prove risky for the Czech Republic with regards to the next wave of the coronavirus epidemic. Currently, a person may undergo two PCR tests and four antigen tests for coronavirus a month for free. Costs of the tests are covered by the public health insurance system.
Testing in companies: Mandatory testing in companies that was introduced in spring is not expected to be renewed this fall unless the coronavirus incidence rate is more than 75 new cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days.
O-N-T rules (Vaccination – Očkování, Illness – prodělaná Nemoc or Test): Vaccination is valid for 14 days after the second dose of vaccine. The proof of overcoming the illness is valid for 180 days from a positive test. A valid test can be either PCR, which is valid for seven days, or antigen, which is valid for three days. All the certificates that need to be submitted can be provided either in paper form from certified places, downloaded from the ocko.uzis.cz portal, or uploaded to the Tečka application.
Shops and services
Shops and services in the Czech Republic will not close if the pandemic worsens. According to the Czech Health Minister, the closure of services or shops is not expected even in the most pessimistic scenarios.
Restaurants and bars
The number of people at the table: From September, up to six people are able to be at the table in restaurants instead of the previous maximum of four.
Culture & sport
Mass events: From September, cultural and sports events can be filled up to 100 per cent of their capacity. In a crowd bigger than 3000 people, at least half of the capacity has to be either after vaccination or show proof of contracting Covid-19 in the last 180 days, the remaining part can provide only proof of a negative Covid test.
Galleries, museums, castles and zoo: The conditions for visits to zoos or galleries has loosened up as well, as the entire capacity is now able to be filled. However, the organizers still have the obligation to enable the visitors to keep at a 1.5-meter distance from each other.
Black countries: From September 1, the list of countries with an extreme risk of infection that has been marked in black is cancelled. The affected countries move to a dark red (very high risk) category. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this should facilitate the conditions for the return of the unvaccinated to the Czech Republic. Vaccinated persons can continue to return without testing and quarantine. These countries include Brazil, Colombia, Mozambique, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, and Tanzania (including the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba). According to the current rules for dark-red countries, travellers coming to the Czech Republic from the above-mentioned countries must undergo a test for Covid-19 before their arrival and after return, spend ten days in self-isolation ending with a negative result of PCR test (on the 5th day following their arrival at the earliest and on the 14th day at the latest) unless they are vaccinated or recovered from Covid in the past 180 days.
Airport checks: Czech international airports will check all arriving passengers for whether they meet all conditions imposed by the Czech government as a part of the anti-coronavirus measures. This applies to completed Arrival Forms and other arrival conditions that are regulated by the Traveller’s map.
Public transport in Prague: From the end of August, the Prague public transport system has been again operating at full capacity. The original short intervals have returned to the metro lines in the morning (150 seconds on line A, 140 seconds on line B and 115 seconds on line C). Trams run at peak times every 8 minutes, on backbone lines 9, 17 and 22 every 4 minutes. For the backbone city bus lines, the morning intervals have been shortened to the usual 5-6 minutes, and compared to the pre-holiday period, approximately 15% more bus connections run at peak times. Moreover, from September 1, opening the door with a button in public transport has returned. Eliminating the mandatory opening and closing of all doors at stops where no one gets in or out should help to maintain thermal comfort in vehicles in the coming colder period. In addition, it helps ensure more accurate operation. In the metro, the central opening of all doors by the driver remains the same.
The third dose of the vaccine
Who is eligible: The government recommends revaccination with the third dose of the vaccine to people over 60 and at-risk groups (i.e. seniors, chronic patients, healthcare professionals, social workers and clients in residential social facilities). However, the vaccine will be available to anyone who is interested in it. The only condition is to have at least eight months after the completion of the vaccination.
Registration: Registration for revaccination against Covid-19 with the third dose will start on September 20, 2021, on ceskoockuje.cz. However, if you want to receive a booster dose from your practitioner, you need to report directly to them and skip the web application.
What vaccines will be used: Healthcare professionals will administer the mRNA-type vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. People who are vaccinated with AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine can also receive them as a third dose.