Celebrating Christmas this year is going to look a lot different than it did in 2019 due to the ongoing fight against the spread of Coronavirus.
Health Minister Jan Blatný hasn’t yet revealed detailed plans for Covid-19 restrictions around the festive season, but here is what we know so far.
Prague will likely be under PES Level 3
Minister of Health Jan Blatný (ANO) announced during an interview with CNN Prima News that during Christmas time the Czech government could apply the PES (Protiepidemický Systém) level 3. Under this level, restaurants will be closed from 22:00 to 06:00 and a maximum of four guests will be allowed to sit at one table. The night curfew will end, while in shops there will be a limit of 1 person per 15 m2.
Shops, restaurants and bars could open from November 30
All but essential shops have been closed since October 22, when former Health Minister Roman Prymula announced a tightening of restrictions to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. That soon could be changing, as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček “The health situation is improving. All shops and service establishments will open at once, probably on 30 November but still with some restrictions.”
With Christmas a month away, we can’t be certain that the restrictions won’t be reinstated. But if Blatný lowers the PES system to its third stage as planned, it will be easy to buy gifts and enjoy a meal out for the festive period
You’ll probably be able to visit and spend the day with family
Current government measures don’t prohibit visiting relatives. This has been the exception to the restriction of daily movement since the beginning of the second wave. With this, we can assume that spending Christmas day with the family will be allowed. The only exception is that the Ministry of Health recommends avoiding contact with older relatives due to the risk to their health.
It could also be tricky to visit relatives living abroad. Based on Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček’s ‘traffic light‘ system, virtually all of Europe is coloured in red or orange, meaning either a negative test or 14-day quarantine are required for entry. However, Petříček has confirmed that it is possible to travel to even red countries for up to 24 hours without a test or quarantine if the trip is for a number of reasons including family visits.
The Christmas Market in Prague won’t be as big as usual
“Given the epidemiological situation, it would probably be very inappropriate to hold Christmas markets,” said Prague councillor Jan Chabr on October 26, when they announced the cancellation of the annual market. There will still be a Christmas tree put up in the centre, and the government is set to make a concrete decision on whether a small number of stalls will be allowed in the upcoming week.
It is likely that exceptions will be made for Czech traditions, as Blatný said: “The sale of Christmas trees, carps, and typical decorations will be possible.”
If Christmas markets are allowed to operate under level three of the PES system, market owners will still have to wear masks and social distancing rules will apply. However, drinking alcohol outside will be allowed.