Czechia wants to push more people into vaccinations with tightened restrictions

People exiting a tram wear face masks on a first school day in Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
By Lucie Ctverakova
3 Min Read

The Czech government is responding to the worsening epidemic situation with new measures, with the country’s health minister saying that the measure to charge for testing is designed to push people to get the vaccine.

Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch announced that from Oct. 25, people would have to wear face masks at workplaces or mass events, regardless of the number of participants.

The changes will also concern Covid-19 testing. In addition to shortening the validity of antigenic and PCR tests, from November, public health insurance will no longer cover the cost of testing.

Testing costs health insurance companies about two billion korunas (€78.3 million) a month. According to Vojtěch, the aim of charging for tests is to force as many people as possible to get vaccinated.

The state will continue to pay for the tests for children and young people under the age of 18, people after the first dose of Covid-19 vaccination, and patients who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. The ministry later clarified that preventive testing would also remain free of charge for vaccinated people and those ordered to get tested after being in contact with an infected person.

The ministry also stated that people sitting alone in an office will not have to wear a face mask but would have to put it on when someone else is there with them. Until now, it was mandatory to wear face masks only in shops or public transport.

As Vojtěch already indicated in recent days, the government has also resorted to shortening the validity of Covid-19 tests. Antigenic tests will be valid for 24 hours instead of 72 hours, and in the case of PCR tests, it will be 72 hours instead of seven days. Covid-19 tests are necessary for entering restaurants or attending events.

Controls will also tighten in restaurants and clubs as owners of these establishments will have the authority to check whether the guests are tested or vaccinated. If the customer refuses to present the required certificate, the case might be handed over to the police or public health office.

However, there is an exception for children under the age of 12 who do not have to provide any such document. So far, this rule applied only to children under the age of six. Vaccination has not yet been approved for children up to the age of 12.

With the new measures, the government is responding to the deteriorating epidemic situation. The spread of Covid-19 in the Czech Republic has more than doubled in a single week. More than 3,200 new infections were recorded yesterday.

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