Handbook for citizens: Rights and obligations during a state of emergency

The government has declared a state of emergency in the Czech Republic due to the threat to health related to the proven occurrence of the coronavirus (identified as SARS CoV-2), which has been added to the list of infectious diseases and the deliberate spreading of which shall now be a criminal offence. We present an overview of how to behave and what is permitted within the state of emergency pursuant to the extraordinary measures in effect.

Movement and presence during a state of emergency

The restriction of free movement around the entire Czech Republic applies to all persons.

What can I do?

  • Travel to work or travel for business only within the Czech Republic (for exceptions see Chapter 2 Travel abroad).
  • Go out to shop for essential items such as groceries, medicine, medical devices, etc., for yourself, your pets, relatives or close persons.
  • Travel as a part of volunteering, neighborly assistance or other arrangement of errands and services.
  • Travel to healthcare or social facilities, and accompany relatives and close persons to these facilities.
  • It is possible to travel around the Czech Republic for the purpose of arranging urgent official matters, or to accompany relatives or close persons for this purpose.
  • It is possible to move about nature and parks – but it is necessary to realize that moving about public spaces is limited only to the necessary period of time – moreover, no more than two people can move about outside together in this manner, except for families.
  • I can attend funerals.
  • If I am a motor vehicle driver and I am in the vehicle alone, I do not need to wear protective respiratory equipment.
  • I can engage in sport at outdoor sports grounds, in parks, in nature and other publicly accessible areas, provided the following conditions are met:
    • protection of the respiratory passages (nose, mouth) to prevent the spreading of droplets is required, except for outdoor sports grounds where the persons participating in the sport, or groups of persons doing sport together, are separated from other persons by a physical obstacle (e.g. wall or fence) or by a distance of at least 2 metres,
    • at most two persons can do sports together, with the exception of household members; otherwise a distance of at least 2 metres must be maintained from other persons while doing sports collectively,
    • no related indoor sports facilities are used, in particular shared changing rooms, washrooms, showers and similar amenities, at which the aforementioned conditions are not met, including travel for the purpose of such sports.

What must I do?

  • I must try to limit my movement in public to a minimum.
  • I must limit contact with others to only essential contact.
  • Limit my movement in public spaces to a maximum of two persons together, except for family members, the performance of my occupation, business or similar activity, and attendance at funerals.
  • I must maintain a distance of at least two meters when coming into contact with other persons, if possible.
  • Whenever I move about and stay in public spaces outside of my home, I must wear protective respiratory equipment – meaning covering my nose and mouth – I can use a respirator, mask, scarf or other device that prevents the spread of infection through droplets. There is an exception for children under the age of 2.

Travel abroad in a state of emergency

What is prohibited?

  • Citizens and foreigners with permanent residency or temporary residence for over 90 days must not travel out of the Czech Republic, except for persons stated here.
  • All foreigners are prohibited from entering the Czech Republic. This does not apply:
    • to foreigners with temporary residency for more than 90 days or permanent residency in the Czech Republic, family members – spouses and minor children – of European Union citizens and Czech Republic citizens who are authorised to enter the Czech Republic,
    • to European Union citizens and foreigners with European Union residency permits who are transiting across the Czech Republic in order to travel home, and have a note issued by a diplomatic mission for this purpose (transit and repatriation),
    • if the entry of these foreigners is in the interest of the Czech Republic,
    • to cross-border workers who regularly and repeatedly cross the state border of the Czech Republic and a neighbouring country for the purpose of performing work in the Czech Republic,
    • to workers in international transport,
    • to workers in critical infrastructure servicing,
    • to diplomats and officials of international organisations,
    • in urgent extraordinary situations.
  • The acceptance of applications for visas, short-term visas, temporary and permanent residence and applications for stays of over 90 days has been suspended.
  • If I am a cross-border worker, I must respect the stricter requirements to minimise social contacts:
    a) I must not visit my family or close persons
    b) I must not arrange errands and services for other persons
    c) I must not travel to arrange urgent official matters
    d) I must not go out in nature and parks

What is permitted?

  • Cross-border workers may cross the border of the Czech Republic under the conditions stipulated on the website of the Ministry of Interior.
  • Drivers of trucks and buses, passenger aircraft crews, train conductors, train crews and wheel tappers, ship captains and vessel crew members and crews of road management vehicles who transit or ensure transport via high-risk territories and to whom an exception from compulsory quarantine applies, are recommended by the government to behave with maximum caution in the high-risk territories and limit contact with local staff to the absolute minimum.
  • Citizens of the Czech Republic may return from countries which have adopted extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus or from which commercial mass transit connections have been restricted or cancelled, via the repatriation program for which the government has earmarked CZK 111 million from the state budget reserve to ensure their return. – Crossing the border with Germany and Austria is permitted only at 12 selected border crossing and at the airports in Prague-Ruzyně and Prague-Kbely. Until further notice, the internal protection of borders with Germany and Austria and the internal air border has been reintroduced, and Slovakia and Poland are both protecting their borders from their own initiative.
  • Employment permits pursuant to the Act on Employment and short-term Schengen visas for the purpose of employment that were issued before the date this measure was declared and whose validity will expire at most 60 days from the end of the state of emergency, are extended so that they expire after the passing of 60 days from the end of the state of emergency. This is under the condition that the foreigner has a valid employment relationship with an employer in the Czech Republic. The validity of employment permits and residency permits and visas issued until the date the measure was declared to persons in an employment relationship with employers who provide services based on agreement or based on other contracts, is extended for a period of 60 days after expiry.

What must I do?

  • If I am a cross-border worker with a granted exemption, I must undergo an examination of infectious disease symptoms when crossing the state border.
  • If I am a cross-border worker with a granted exemption, I must undergo the imposed 14-day quarantine; proof of undergoing quarantine will be issued by my attending physician, and when commencing a new tour, I must submit it to the police.
  • All citizens of the Czech Republic, foreigners with permanent residency or temporary residency for over 90 days in the Czech Republic, who return from abroad, from any country, are obliged to report this fact via telephone or other remote access to their attending physician or attending pediatrician, and undergo a 14-day quarantine at home.

Cultural, sports and other events

What is prohibited?

  • Given the restriction of free movement of persons, the presence of the public is prohibited at facilities such as gyms, swimming areas, tanning salons, saunas and wellness centres, music and social clubs, entertainment facilities, public libraries and galleries, pools, tourist information centres.
  • Furthermore, the presence of the public is prohibited at dining establishments, and the activity of dining establishments located within shopping centres with an area of more than 5000 m2 is prohibited.
  • Operations are prohibited in gambling rooms, casinos, driving schools, taxi services (except for taxi services delivering food and persons with a taxi driver license), presence at building supply and building product stores and hobby markets.
  • The sale of accommodation services is prohibited, except for parties providing accommodation at hostels, spa facilities and school accommodation facilities; this prohibition does not apply to the sale and provision of accommodation services to persons engaged in the performance of an occupation, business or other similar activity, and sales to foreigners until they leave the Czech Republic or foreigners with a work permit in the Czech Republic.
  • The validity of regulations, by which municipalities define parts of the municipality where local roads or the designated segments thereof can be used for a price agreed with pricing regulations, is suspended.
  • Throughout the duration of the state of emergency, an affidavit may be used for employees whose employment relationship begins from 16 March to replace a) the health certificate pursuant to Section 19(2) of Act No. 258/2000 Coll., on Public Health Protection and on the amendment of certain related laws, as amended, and b) the assessment of health qualifications of a person seeking employment pursuant to Section 373/2011 Coll., on Specific Healthcare Services, as amended.
  • The sale of tickets by conductors on Czech Railways trains is temporarily suspended.

Retail

What is permitted?

Retail sales and the sale of services at establishments is prohibited, except for the following stores (if the given service or goods accounts for the majority of the given establishment’s activity):

  • food,
  • fuel,
  • propellants,
  • hygienic goods, cosmetics, and other druggist goods;
  • pharmacies, dispensaries and medical device shops,
  • small domestic animals;
  • feed and other articles for animals;
  • spectacles, contact lenses, and related goods;
  • newspapers and magazines;
  • tobacco products;
  • laundry and dry-cleaning services;
  • repair of road vehicles, if there are not more than 30 persons in the establishment at the same time,
  • towing and the removal of defects of vehicles in traffic on roads,
  • sale of spare parts for vehicles and production technologies,
  • establishments enabling the collection of goods and shipments from third parties,
  • sale of gardening supplies including seeds and seedlings,
  • ticket sales,
  • spa facilities, provided that only spa services covered at least in part from public health insurance are provided,
  • funeral services,
  • flower shops,
  • construction of buildings and their removal, project-related activities in construction, geological work, surveying, testing, measurement and analysis in construction,
  • sale of textiles and haberdashery,
  • service of computer and telecommunication equipment, audio and video receivers, consumer electronics, devices and other household products,
  • real estate brokering and activities of accounting advisors, accounting, keeping tax records,
  • locksmithery and servicing of other household products,
  • repair, maintenance and installation of household machinery and equipment,
  • operators of burial sites, performance of embalming and preservation, cremation of human remains into urns,
  • car washes,
  • household goods, if protective respiratory equipment such as respirators, face masks, kerchiefs, scarves or other resources that prevent the spreading of droplets, gloves and disinfection can be purchased at the store,
  • hobby markets, construction supply and material stores and hardware stores,
  • stores selling and repairing bicycles,
  • raw material collection and buyback yards and composting yards

the prohibition of retail sales and the sale of services at establishments does not apply to activities which are not trades pursuant to the Trades Act.

  • All persons are prohibited from being present in retail outlets with a sales are of more than 500 m2 selling food, hygienic products, cosmetics, and other druggist products, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., with the exception of persons over the age of 65 years and their necessary accompanying persons; persons holding a disability certificate (ZTP/P) over the age of 50 years and their necessary accompanying persons; employees or persons in a similar relationship of a facility providing care services; and the owners and employees of the store’s operator or persons in a similar situation. Those retail stores with a sales area of less than 500 m2 are obliged to give priority to seniors over the age of 65 and ZTP/P disability certificate holders over the age of 50 during sales.
  • Retail sales at open air and indoor markets are prohibited.

What must I do?

  • All operators of retail stores are advised to disinfect shopping baskets and carts after every use, and the handles of doors at least once per hour, and are permitted to sell unpackaged bakery products only if they fulfil the following conditions:
    a) it is ensured that there is no crowding together of people at the bakery product collection points,
    b) the point of sale is equipped with personal hygiene aids.
  • It is ordered that business owners operating a self-service grocery store provide disposable gloves free of charge to customers at each entrance to such a shop, or other similar hand protection (e.g. plastic bags).

All operators of retail establishments are ordered:

  • to actively prevent customers from approaching to within 2 metres of each other,
  • to ensure the management of queues of waiting customers, both inside and outside the store, particularly by marking the waiting area and placing symbols indicating the minimal distance between customers (minimal distance of 2 m),
  • to place disinfectant products near frequently touched objects (especially handles, railings, shopping carts), so that it is available to employees and customers of the establishment and can be used for regular disinfection,
  • to ensure that workers at the establishment wear gloves when coming into contact with goods or accepting payments from customers,
  • to ensure that customers are informed of the above rules, primarily by means of information posters at the entrance and throughout the establishment, or by stating the rules through loudspeaker announcements in the establishment.

School attendance and educational events

What is prohibited?

  • The personal attendance of students of primary, secondary, and tertiary education at schools and education facilities has been prohibited, as well as at mass forms of instruction and examinations during university studies and events organised by such schools.
  • The personal attendance of students in primary artistic education at primary schools of art and language education in language schools having the right to offer state language examinations, and at events organized by such schools, is prohibited.
  • Furthermore, the personal attendance of students in one-year foreign language education with daily instruction is prohibited at institutions registered as education institutions providing one-year foreign language courses with daily instruction.
  • Furthermore, the personal attendance of children, pupils, students, and other participants in leisure-time courses at educational institutions for leisure-time education is prohibited, as well as at competitions and shows organised for children, pupils, and students of schools and education institutions.

What must I do?

  • The regional governors and the Mayor of the City of Prague have been ordered to arrange, if need be, educational facilities that will take care of children aged 3 to 10 whose parents are employees of the security corps, municipal police, healthcare service providers, public health protection authorities, or members of the armed forces, or teaching or non-teaching staff of a designated school or educational institution, and employees of municipalities assigned to the municipal offices to perform social work, of regions to regional offices to perform social work, and of social service providers, with there being no more than 15 children in each such group.

What is permitted?

The personal attendance of university students at clinical and practical training and practice is still permitted.

Examinations

State school-leaving examinations will take place no sooner than three weeks after the reopening of schools, so that:

a) only the didactic part is conducted without the written part in the Czech and foreign language,

b) the results of school-leaving examinations will be evaluated directly at the schools,
c) if schools are not reopened by 1 June, the school-leaving report card will be stipulated based on the grades from the last three report cards, with the option of re-examination before a commission.

Unified acceptance examinations for secondary schools will be conducted in unchanged form no earlier than two weeks after the reopening of schools; only one round will be conducted with a possible substitute deadline.

Transportation

What is prohibited?

  • All carriers providing international passenger carriage by road with vehicles with a capacity of over 9 persons are prohibited from carrying passengers across the borders of the Czech Republic. The same prohibition applies to carriers in international passenger rail carriage and carriers on cross-border inland water transport.
  • In commercial passenger air carriage involving the crossing of the borders of the Czech Republic, carriers are prohibited from using any airports other than the Václav Havel public international airport in Prague – Ruzyně.
  • On the border segments of the D1, D2, D5, D8 and D11 motorways, freight transport using vehicles of over 3.5 t is temporarily restricted in the direction towards the border crossings in that freight vehicles are forbidden from overtaking other vehicles.  Lorries carrying e.g. animals, perishable foodstuffs, postal consignments and medical materials are exempt from this ban.

This measure shall not apply to the carriage of Czech citizens and citizens with a permanent or temporary stay in the Czech Republic in excess of 90 days who are returning to the Czech Republic, for the transport of empty buses, empty train sets, and empty vessels travelling without passengers back to the Czech Republic or leaving the Czech Republic.

What may I do and what is recommended?

  • Until future notice, the prohibition on the driving of trucks in excess of 7.5 tonnes on Czech roads and motorways on Sundays and national holidays is lifted.
  • It is recommended that all operators of public transport services disinfect the areas frequently touched by people (especially handles, door controls, grips, seatbacks) minimally after every trip.
  • The following international transport workers can travel across the border: lorry drivers, bus drivers, passenger aircraft crews and crews of aircraft performing flight work, train drivers, train crews and wheeltappers, ship captains and crew members of cargo vessels, crews of roadworks vehicles and drivers of vehicles for up to 9 persons transporting any of the aforementioned categories of persons, employed with the same employer and transporting them to or from the place where they are to commence activity, and empty rides related to this type of transport (in the case of alternating ship captains and cargo ship crews, the employer may contract an external driver of a vehicle for up to 9 persons).

Detailed information of the Ministry of Transport

Social area

What is prohibited?

  • Persons who are provided with social services by registered social service providers are prohibited from leaving the facility building or compound where these social services are provided throughout the duration of the state of emergency.

What must I do?

  • For as long as the state of emergency is in force in connection with the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus epidemic, a labour obligation has been imposed on students attending regular higher professional and tertiary institutions in disciplines focused on social work and social pedagogy, social pedagogy, social and humanitarian work, social work, social and legal work, charitable and social work, or in programs focused on social work, social policy, social pedagogy, social care, social pathology, law, or special pedagogy, in order to ensure the provision of care in social service facilities. Specific work tasks shall be assigned by the government in connection with regional governors and the mayor of the City of Prague.
  • Registered social service providers pursuant to the Act on Social Services (day care centres, weekly care centres, low-threshold facilities for children and youths, social activization services for families with children, social activization services for seniors and persons with disabilities, social therapeutic workshops) must interrupt the provision of these services for the duration of the state of emergency.
  • Social service providers must interrupt the provision of social services based on contracts concluded with the user under Section 91 of Act No. 108/2006 Coll., on social services, and interrupt the provision of services within individual planning, for the duration of the state of emergency.
  • For the duration of the state of emergency, all social service providers who operate day care centres must suspend the activities of these centres.
  • Providers of social services must provide social services in the essential scope in order to protect the lives and health of people.
  • The governors and lord mayor of the City of Prague must ensure the provision of other adequate social services, or the provision of other forms of care in the essential scope, and only in cases of a direct threat to the lives and health of social services user, in cooperation with the municipalities in which these users are factually residents.
  • Mayors of municipalities are ordered to ensure assistance for persons over 70 when handling basic needs, including purchasing food and medicines.
  • The governors of the regions and the lord mayor of the City of Prague are obliged to set aside spaces at healthcare facilities, with the exception of intensive care wards, or at inpatient social services facilities with adequate staffing in the territory of every region and in the City of Prague with bed capacity for separating persons to whom social services are being provided and who have been determined to be infected with the COVID-19 disease, at least in the scope of 60 beds per 100,000 inhabitants of the region or City of Prague, operatively as the need arises due to the current epidemiological situation, and to ensure that these spaces are clearly labelled.

What is recommended?

  • It is recommended that during the state of emergency persons over 70 do not go outside their homes, with the exception of visiting a healthcare facility for the purpose of obtaining urgent healthcare.
  • Within the regime of legislative emergency, the government has prepared a draft extraordinary bill, which amends the Act on Sickness Insurance for the duration of the state of emergency, in that:
    a) it extends the period of paying the treatment allowance for the duration of the extraordinary government measure on the prohibition of school attendance,
    changes the maximum age for granting the claim to a treatment allowance, so that it now applies to children under the age of 13,
    extends the payment of the treatment allowance to care for medically handicapped persons in a common household, regardless of age, if the facility designated to care for such persons was closed, whereas the allowance may be paid retroactively.

Healthcare

What is prohibited?

  • All employees who perform medical professions pursuant to Act No. 95/2004 Coll., and pursuant to Act No. 96/2004 Coll., are prohibited from taking vacation during the state of emergency, except for those who were ordered into quarantine.
  • The distribution of pharmaceuticals in connection to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus epidemic is prohibited; the re-export of all registered medicinal products, which are intended for the market in the Czech Republic, to European Union member states and export to countries outside of the European Union is prohibited.
  • All providers of inpatient healthcare services and all inpatient social service facilities and all inpatient social relief service facilities are ordered to prohibit visits to patients and clients, except for:
    a) patients and users of social services who are minors,
    b) patients and users of social services whose legal capacity has been restricted,
    c) patients in hospices and other patients and users of social services in a terminal stage of an incurable illness.
  • Physicians, with certain exceptions, and veterinary physicians are prohibited from prescribing the medicinal product Plaquenil; pharmacists, with certain exceptions, are prohibited from dispensing this medicinal product.

What must I do?

  • Furthermore, to ensure the provision of healthcare services by healthcare service providers and to ensure the operation of public health authorities during the state of emergency,  a labour obligation has been imposed on pupils and students in the fifth and sixth year of the in-person study of general medicine at faculties of medicine of public universities and students in the highest year of daily or attendance-based programs or disciplines preparing from the profession of a general nurse, paediatric nurse, paramedic, public health protection and support assistant, and practical nurse.
  • Providers of intensive inpatient care must limit planned surgeries to those which cannot withstand a delay so as to reserve the maximum capacity for potential patients with COVID-19 disease.
  • All intensive care facilities in the Czech Republic are obliged to reserve bed capacity for patients with the COVID-19 disease, including ensuring the presence of the required staff and adequate safety conditions.
  • All physicians, dentists and pharmacists and all employees subject to the Act on the Conditions for Acquiring and Recognizing Qualifications to Perform Non-medical Healthcare Occupations and to Perform Related Activities are obliged, if they discover that they have been in direct contact with a person in whom COVID-19 disease has been confirmed.
  • All providers of intensive bed care must:
    a) in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 disease infection within the healthcare facility, reserve an area at the entrance to the healthcare facility or at another suitable location for the sorting of all patients entering the healthcare facility, including patients being handed over by the paramedics service,
    b) to create a method to stipulate the rules for sorting patients in terms of the further provision of healthcare services, which will be focussed on identifying patients suspected of having the COVID-19 disease or proven to have the COVID-19 disease, and the rules for providing healthcare services to these patients,
    c) to ensure the sorting of all patients entering healthcare facilities in accordance with the method pursuant to point 2,
    d) to reserve areas at the healthcare facility which will be designated for providing healthcare services to patients suspected of having the COVID-19 disease or proven to have the COVID-19 disease,
    e) to establish the dispatching of personal protective equipment
    for the purpose of keeping central records of their stocks, planning of needs and their allocation.
  • All providers of intensive bed care must:
    a)
    by 10:00 a.m. of every day and with respect to every patient with COVID-19 disease, fill in and send a complete “Record of hospitalised positive findings” report in the ISIN-COVID-19 module of the Infectious Disease Information System (ISIN), the administrator of which is the Ministry of Health and which is maintained pursuant to Act No. 258/2000 Coll.,
    b) to report in the same manner and via the same means, within one hour of the occurrence of any of the following events, the fact that they have admitted into their care a patient with the COVID-19 disease in serious condition or a patient whose health condition requires the use of a respiratory support function, or whose health condition requires the use of extra-corporal membrane oxygenation (ECMO),
    c) to report in the same manner and via the same means, within one hour of the occurrence of any of the following events, the fact that a patient with the COVID-19 disease who they have been treating in hospital has progressed to serious condition, or newly requires the use of a respiratory support function, or newly requires the use of extra-corporal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

What is permitted?

As of 16 March 2020, the performance of periodical medical examinations of employees is not required.

Activities of authorities and local governments

What are the restrictions?

Ensuing from the state of emergency, public authorities and administrative authorities have commenced limited operations at their workplaces, consisting of:

a) the restriction of work, state services, in particular those agendas, the performance of which must be unconditionally continuously ensured, in particular to ensure the running of the public administration and public administrative services in the required scope and to perform the tasks of the government of the Czech Republic aimed at fulfilling the goals of the state of emergency; other agendas are performed to the extent that they do not threaten the measures listed below, required to protect the health of state employees, employees and other officials (hereinafter referred to as the “employees”),
b) the restriction of personal contact between the employees and the addressees of public administration (applicants, other parties to administrative proceedings) and other external persons (hereinafter referred to as the “clients/public”) to the essential level; the restriction of contacts will be conducted primarily as follows:

c) restricting the scope of the bodies’ office hours to Mondays and Wednesdays, with a maximum of three hours on the given day; the bodies shall inform about the changes in office hours in an appropriate manner and shall publish those hours on their official notice boards;

d) ensuring the operation of individual departments by having the minimum possible staffing required for the work of the administrative authority present at the workplace;

e) ensuring the operation of the body so that any quarantine measures ordered with respect to some employees does not threaten the actionability of the body (e.g., alternating separate groups of employees, remote working).

For the duration of the state of emergency, due to the restriction on the freedom of movement in the Czech Republic, local governments are ordered to hold council meetings only if necessary to adopt measures related to resolving the state of emergency or approving the legal actions required to fulfil the deadlines or prevent directly impending damages. The meetings must be conducted via remote means of communication allowing the council members to attend the council meetings in real time without being present in person. Personal attendance is prohibited.

Security

For the duration of the state of emergency, the members of security corps are prohibited from conducting other gainful activity, which they perform pursuant to the Act on the Service of Security Corps Members.

Prison services

For as long as the state of emergency is in force, all visits to accused persons held in detention facilities, convicts in penal facilities, and inmates in security detention institutes are prohibited.