Wearing face-masks in public transport could once more become mandatory after summer, Prague Hygiene Service chief Zdeňka Jágrová announced.
As iDNES reports, Prague Security Council held a special meeting in the morning (July 30), connected with the deterioration of the epidemiological situation in the city.
During the discussion, Prague authorities and epidemiologists discussed new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Jágrová told reporters that wearing face masks in tram and buses will become mandatory again, probably from the beginning of September.
“Wearing face masks in tram and buses will become mandatory as soon as climatic conditions allow it. The only reason this measure was canceled is that only a small part of buses and trams are air-conditioned, and wearing masks at temperatures above 25° C causes serious discomfort for many people. In the metro, the air conditioning system works everywhere, so masks remain mandatory,” Jágrová said.
“The situation will certainly be more complicated in autumn than it is today”, added Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech (ANO).
Jágrová announced that the obligatory wearing of masks, which she said had contributed to better results in the past, will be reviewed every two weeks.
The government will continue monitoring the epidemiological situation in the Czech Republic as well as abroad and introduce additional measures on borders if this proves necessary, she added.
The Czech Republic was the first country in Europe to introduce compulsory face masks, on 19 March.
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According to the Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch, the compulsory use of facemasks on public transport may return from October or November.
“In autumn, the normal seasonal flu could compound health risks stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Additional tests will also be needed to exclude other diseases,” says Vojtech.
“The incidence of the disease will determine whether we need to wear face masks again. We need to prevent the spread of infection when other respiratory viruses will circulate,” added Vojtěch.
Currently, masks are mandatory only in the Prague metro and in public transport in the Moravian-Silesian and Jihlava regions. It should also be worn in inpatient facilities and nursing homes, as well as indoors at public events.
The compulsory use of the face mask was introduced by the Czech government on March 19, when citizens were “obliged to wear any form of respiratory protection in public places, including in the open air”.
The Czech Republic had 13,238 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection by Tuesday morning, with 64 new infections on Monday. So far 8,373 people have recovered and 353 people have died.
Although the virus is still circulating in Prague, the capital city has only seen a residual amount of new Covid-19 cases in recent days.
At the beginning of April, the Czech-made video #Masks4All by Petr Ludwig and Aneta Kernová in English language was watched by millions of people worldwide and featured on CNN.
The video encouraged people across the world to wear face masks during the global pandemic to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
From July 1st, the Czech Republic will lift its trailblazing rule requiring face masks to be worn in public transport, a symbolic landmark in the country’s relatively successful battle against Covid-19.
Covering the nose and mouth will continue to be mandatory only in places with a higher incidence of the disease, said Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch (ANO) today.
From 1 July, restaurants and pubs can be open from 23:00 to 06:00.
Vojtěch added that the regulation would still apply in areas of localized COVID-19 outbreaks (Prague and the coal mine region of Karviná). However, the situation could change in the next two weeks.
As of June 22, 5,000 people can take part in public events if people are divided into sectors, Vojtěch added. From Monday, trade fairs with maximum participation of up to 5,000 people at the same time will also be allowed.
“If the situation develops well, half of the football stadiums could open from 1 September,” said epidemiologist Rastislav Maďar.
The Czech Republic was among the first countries in Europe to close its borders against the spread of coronavirus, on 12 March, ordering the closure of most business days later.
But the mask edict – in common with Slovakia – quickly became the symbol of the Czech fight against the pandemic, prompting debate in other countries over whether they should follow suit.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic reached 10,162 on Thursday morning. 7,399 people have fully recovered from COVID-19.