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World

Czechs extend emergency, close shops as cases soar

  • The Czech Republic has struggled to bring infection rates under control ever since.
23 Dec, 2020

PRAGUE: The Czech government on Wednesday extended its state of emergency and announced tighter restrictions including closing shops, as the number of new Covid-19 cases started to soar again.

The Czech Republic, an EU member of 10.7 million people, registered 10,821 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, the fastest daily growth since November 6.

It has recorded almost 650,000 cases and more than 10,600 deaths since the March outbreak.

"The Czech Republic will move to the top tier (of its epidemic system) with the highest risk from December 27," Health Minister Jan Blatny told reporters.

This means that shops selling non-essential goods will be closed and public gatherings restricted to two people, with a curfew between 9pm and 5am.

The measures will stay in place at least until January 10, while the state of emergency, a legal instrument allowing the government to impose restrictions and buy medical equipment without tenders, will last at least until January 22.

"Continuing growth in infections" made the measures necessary, Blatny said, adding he expected the restrictions to keep the daily growth pace at around 11,000 cases until it starts falling again.

He also called on Czechs to spend New Year's Eve only with their immediate families.

The country saw a massive spike in Covid-19 infections in October, giving it Europe's highest per capita Covid-19 daily death rate for several weeks in October and November.

The Czech Republic has struggled to bring infection rates under control ever since.

Last week, the government already closed restaurants, bars, museums and galleries and imposed a curfew between 11pm and 5am to stem infections.

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