Czechs impose more restrictions as virus cases surge

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A woman wearing a face mask walks in Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. Facing a record surge of coronavirus infections, the Czech Republic returns to a recipe that was believed to work well to contain the pandemic in the spring. Starting Wednesday, face masks will be again mandatory outdoors. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

PRAGUE – The Czech government on Wednesday announced further restrictions to fight the coronavirus pandemic, including limits on free movement, after a series of earlier restrictive measures failed to slow a surge in the number of new infections.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis apologized for the measures but said that if they were not taken, “our health system would collapse between Nov 7-11.”

“We have no time to wait,” Babis said. “The surge (of new cases) is enormous.”

The restrictions will become affective on Thursday and will last until at least Nov 3.

Health Minister Roman Prymula detailed how the the government was ordering the closure of many stores, shopping malls and hotels.

People will be banned from leaving their homes, with some exceptions. They will still be allowed to travel to work, do business, visit relatives, buy food and other necessities, do sports and travel abroad.

State offices will also limit their opening hours

“Those measures are in our view inevitable,” Prymula said. “To limit free movement of people is the most effective form of prevention,” he said. “All the measures limit contacts among people.”