Czech Republic to bar unvaccinated from public events, services

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Czech authorities will ban people who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered from coronavirus infection from access to public events and services from Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Wednesday.

The restrictions, to be approved by the full cabinet on Thursday, come after a spike in new infections to record 22,479 on Tuesday and mean that negative tests will no longer be recognised as qualification to enter events and service establishments, Babis said on television.

The Czech Republic reported 22,479 new coronavirus cases for Tuesday, the highest tally recorded in the country of 10.7 million since the pandemic started, Health Ministry data showed on Wednesday.

The daily figure represented a 54% jump from a week ago and surpassed a previous record of 17,778 infections seen in January. The country tends to report the highest number of cases on Tuesdays as more people test after the weekend.

The soaring figures come as infections are on the rise in a number of European countries including neighbours Austria, Germany and Slovakia.

The Czechs have had to observe relatively light restrictions in the latest COVID-19 wave compared to previous ones, with the government pledging no school closures or lockdowns, and promoting vaccination.

People have to show negative COVID-19 tests or vaccination certificates to enter restaurants and bars and are required to wear masks inside.

The government has resisted tightening rules while in transition to a new administration expected to take office in the coming weeks, but the worsening situation in hospitals has made it consider tighter restrictions on unvaccinated people. The government was due to discuss various options on Thursday.

Hospitals reported 4,425 coronavirus patients on Tuesday, less than half of the record highs seen in March, and 661 people in intensive care, the Health Ministry said.

The country has recorded a total of 31,709 COVID-19 deaths, with the daily count mostly over 60 in the past days.

The Czech Republic’s vaccination rate has lagged those of other countries, with 57.6% of the population fully vaccinated versus an EU average of 64.9%, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Photo – A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) waits for people to come for testing at a newly opened drive-in coronavirus testing station in Prague, Czech Republic. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

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