Germany and Belgium have decided to include Prague on the list of regions with high-risk of COVID-19 infection. The borders will not close, but both countries will require people traveling from Prague to get tested or stay in quarantine.
The German ministries of foreign affairs, health, and the interior have agreed to put Prague on the list, while at the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned on its website against visiting the Czech capital.
Besides Prague, Germany has added several French departments, two Swiss cantons, and several regions in Croatia and Romania to the list.
“Unfortunately, the epidemiological situation did not allow the German authorities to take any other step than classify Prague as a risk area. We assured the German side, with which we keep very good and intensive contacts, that we will do everything to ensure that Prague can get back among countries that are considered risk-free,” said the Czech Ambassador to Germany Tomáš Kafka.
On Wednesday, ahead of the German decision, the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said that any potential restrictions should not apply, for example, to people commuting for work.
Speculations about the possibility of placing Prague on the list of risky areas have been around for several days. In the end, Germany made its decision based on two criteria. The first is the limit of 50 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. The second criterion is the current epidemic situation in the Czech Republic, such as a sharp increase in cases.
Belgium, which decided to include Prague to the list of high-risk regions, did so on the recommendation of epidemiologists from the Celeval center.
Due to the deteriorating epidemiological situation, the Czech government has decided to tighten preventive measures in the country. From Thursday, it is mandatory to wear face masks in all inner spaces throughout the Czech Republic. Until now, the obligation to wear face masks only applied when traveling by public transport or visiting offices and medical facilities.
Title image: People exiting a tram wear face masks on a first school day in Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Starting Tuesday it is mandatory that all people must cover their mouths and noses in all of public transport and some public places in affords to stem the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)