Minister of Health Jan Blatný has agreed to reopen stores next Monday. However, the store staff needs to wear FFP2 respirators.
Customers will not be required to wear respirators, but are encouraged to do so. The proposal awaits approval by the Czech government.
“The opening of retail stores is a significant shift. It’s a big psychological break. After a long time, people will see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček on Twitter on Tuesday.
He also has support from the Minister of the Interior and the head of the Central Crisis Staff, Jan Hamáček.
Havlíček announced the opening date on Monday after negotiations with regional representatives, and his words were confirmed by the chairman of the regional association, Martin Kuba.
The number of shoppers per store area will remain limited, ie still to 15 square meters per person. Customers should also keep a distance from others and use disinfectants.
Další krok ke znovuotevření maloobchodu v pondělí 22/2. Po dohodě na Radě vlády pro zdravotní rizika je tento návrh přijatelný, a to za předpokladu, že personál obchodů bude povinně používat respirátory na bázi FFP2, do osvěty zapojíme rovněž obchodní centra.
— Karel Havlíček (@KarelHavlicek_) February 16, 2021
Shops that could reopen next Monday include clothing and footwear stores, furniture shops, bookstores, and specialized shops.
The government has banned retail sales since October 22. In November, more than two dozen senators filed a complaint against the restriction measure.
The Czech health ministry recorded 8,745 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, an increase of almost 1,000 from the same day a week earlier. The official death toll from COVID-19 has reached 18,430 as of Monday, rising by 180, according to ministry data.
Current hospitalizations rose to 5,990, about double the government’s target level. The ministry reported 466,578 vaccine shots have been administered.
The Austrian example
Austria was among the first European countries to make FFP2 masks mandatory for those over 14 on public transport, shops and businesses, pharmacies as well as hospitals or medical practices.
The measure applies to supermarkets and to service providers such as garage owners and health professionals, while teachers, warehouse workers, and people in the public service must also comply at their workplace unless a minimum distance of two meters can be ensured.