The Czech government will allow stores and restaurants to reopen gradually over the next two months to reawaken an economy paralyzed by the coronavirus lockdown, officials said on Tuesday (14 April).
Authorities said they would start by letting craft shops reopen on 20 April, larger stores on 11 May, and restaurants and shopping malls on 8 June.
“This scenario is based on a parameter where the coronavirus will be under control, as it has been until now,” Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlicek told a news conference.
Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula said the virus reproduction or transmission rate, dubbed “R”, was now less than 1 – meaning a person with the virus typically infects less than 1 person on average, and that the epidemic is in decline.
Nevertheless, Czechs will need to continue wearing face masks until further notice and summer festivals and other events for large groups of people will probably not take place, officials said.
Theatres, other cultural venues for up to 50 people and indoor sections of restaurants would be the last to open on 8 June after beer gardens resume on 25 May under the current plan.
“We managed to get this epidemic under control in some way, the reproduction number has dropped below 1, meaning that the epidemic has a downward trend here,” Prymula said.
The plan also foresees a partial reopening of schools for student admission and graduation exams but normal schooling will not restart before the new academic year in September.
Borders would also remain shut except for travel related to business, medical and family reasons with a 14-day quarantine required on return. Any wider reopening would have to come in coordination with other European countries, officials said.
“Ordinary travel will depend on how the situation develops in Europe, it has to be in concert with other countries,” Havlicek said.
The lockdown has pummelled the Czech economy and cost the services sector an estimated 50 billion crowns (€1.86 billion) in losses through the end of April due to a lack of foreign tourists to Prague and other cities.