Certain restrictions will be eased on Monday with the end of the state of emergency, the first children will return to schools and preschools

At midnight on Sunday, the state of emergency declared in the Czech Republic will end. At the session on Tuesday, 6 April 2021, the government of Andrej Babiš  approved a series of extraordinary measures through which the Ministry of Health implements anti-epidemic measures based on the Pandemic Act. The measures will also see a number of changes – among other, children with mandatory preschool education and children on the 1st level of primary school will be able to return to school facilities, under the condition of regular testing, the ban on movement will end and there will be partial changes in the rules for retail and services.

On Monday, 12 April, children who have mandatory preschool education, pupils on the 1st level of primary school and pupils in the field of education at one-year practical school and two-year practical school will be able to return to regular preschool and school attendance. Schools with at most 75 pupils on the 1st level, which have a separate building including school canteen for the 1st level, can function normally; at all the others the weekly alternation of classes will be applied, so that only half of the classes will attend school every week.

Group consultations will be permitted for pupils on the 2nd level threatened by school failure or pupils of the 9th grade based on their needs evaluated by the school in subjects required for admission examinations, with maximally six pupils in one group, as will individual consultations and individual in-person schooling at primary art schools, language schools with the right to conduct state language examinations pursuant to the Schools Act, and educational institutes providing one-year foreign language courses with daytime lessons.

Practical training in driving a motor vehicle will be restored for pupils and students as part of their professional preparation in fields of education where obtaining a driver’s license of the relevant category is a part of education pursuant to the Framework Education Curriculum or school education curriculum. Information on the website of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

The condition for the presence of children at in-person schooling will be to take a non-invasive antigen test for COVID-19 twice a week, whereas the first test must be conducted on the first day when the child attends the school facility. The employees of school facilities will also have to be tested – those who come into contact with children likewise twice a week, others just once. Children who attend admission or talent examinations will also have to present a negative test for COVID-19 based on a separate measure. Another condition for attending school will be the absence of symptoms of COVID-19. Tests will not have to be taken by those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, and those who present a valid test from an official testing Centre, or those who have undergone complete vaccination.

The government has also decided to reserve an adequate number of antigen tests for schools and school facilities. Until the end of the school year, more than 21.9 million tests will be needed to ensure testing at schools. At present, more than 7.5 million tests are available or have been contracted, which are distributed to the contact centers in the regions with the help of the fire rescue brigade. The government has approved the purchase of an additional 5,633,000 antigen test kits for the period to the end of May 2021. The Administration of State Material Reserves will make the purchase.

The government has also decided on the free provision of more than 12.6 million surgical masks from the emergency supplies of the Administration of State Material Reserves for pupils and students at schools and school facilities. Surgical masks will be mandatory for children at schools. With this reserve, the government intends to resolve situations where the children do not have the proper mask available, because they may be from a socially disadvantaged group or may have lost theirs or they does not have it with them.

The government also discussed the extension of other anti-epidemic measures after 11 April.  Part of the measures which are expressly bound to the Crisis Act will cease to be valid at midnight on Sunday, e.g. the night-time curfew or ban on leaving the district without reason. However, most of them will be newly declared from 12 April based on the Pandemic Act, with some partial changes.

These include e.g. the end of the ban on visits to prisons. Up to two people at once will now be able to visit convicts or inmates in detention. Rules for the wearing of masks for pupils and students were added to the measure imposing the wearing of protective respiratory equipment. From 7 April, the Ministry also eased the current ban on providing planned care at acute inpatient and long-term and aftercare inpatient facilities. Healthcare facilities will thus be able to start accepting patients for planned procedures, but must still be able to operatively change bed capacities for COVID-19 patients.

The measures restricting retail and services will see greater changes. From Monday, stores with children’s clothing and footwear, paper stores, laundry and dry cleaning services, locksmiths or establishments selling mourning goods will be allowed to open. The ban on night-time sales will be shifted to 10 p.m. The ban on serving accommodated guests at hotel restaurants and the operation of service windows will also be shifted to this hour.

Market stands and mobile establishments will be able to open under strict hygienic conditions. However, they will only be allowed to sell fruit and vegetables, flowers and other plants, their fruits, seeds, milk and dairy products, meat and meat products including live fish, eggs, bakery and pastry products, honey and honey products. Zoos and botanical gardens will be allowed to open to the public. However, people will not be able to visit the indoor pavilions and only one fifth of the capacity will be allowed to enter the compound. Social, dance, traditional and similar events and gatherings, festivals, fairs, exhibitions, tasting and celebrations will be permitted, if attended by less than 20 people outdoors and ten indoors. A limit of 15 persons will apply to weddings and funerals. The right of assembly will be limited to at most one hundred persons.

The Ministry of Health has also decided to shift the period for the administration of the second dose of the vaccine, to an interval of 38 to 42 days from the first dose for the Pfizer/BIONTECH and Moderna vaccines, and an interval of 84 to 91 days from the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The change will concern only those newly vaccinated and will be valid from 10 April.

The government also discussed the MPs draft amendment of the act on the rules of procedure of the Chamber of Deputies and related amendment of the Misdemeanors Act. It expressed consent to the draft, which should enable the stricter and more effective punishment of inappropriate behavior of legislators during sessions, with several comments. On the contrary, the government rejected the request of Minth Automotive Technology Research & Development Co., Ltd., to provide a government investment incentive to launch the production of battery sets for electric cars in Kralupy nad Vltavou. According to the government, this investment of more than 836 million does not meet the conditions for its provision.