Czechs declare state of emergency, impose new virus measures
PRAGUE — The Czech government declared a 30-day state of emergency and imposed additional coronavirus restrictions Thursday in its effort to tackle a record surge of infections.
The state of emergency comes into effect on Friday and is a powerful legal tool that makes it possible to restrict people's rights.
Among the other measures, all Christmas markets across the country are banned while it's also banned to drink alcohol in public places, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said.
Furthermore, bars, restaurants, night clubs, discotheques and casinos have to close at 10 p.m.
The number of people at culture and sports events will be limited to 1,000 who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.
All other public gatherings can be attended by up to 100 visitors, down from 1,000.
"We're targeting the places that pose the biggest risks," Vojtech said.
The government's decision came after the daily tally in new coronavirus cases hit a new record of almost 26,000 on Tuesday while the country's infection rate has risen to 1,097 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, also a record high.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis also said the government has been considering mandatory vaccination for certain groups of people, including the elderly, medical and military personnel and police officers, but has yet to decide on that.
"I think it's inevitable," Babis said.
Just over 58% of the Czech population has been fully vaccinated.