Starting from Friday, May 1, the smart quarantine system will be fully in place across the Czech Republic.
The project involves tracing past contacts of people who test positive for the virus five days back by creating “maps of their movements” with the help of banks and mobile phone operators.
Czech banks will provide data for the creation of memory maps. The data will be handed over to the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic, which will require it based on the consent of infected people.
The information was provided by the Czech Banking Association (ČBA).
“We are relaxing several strict measures, people are starting to go to work and doing more activities outdoor, shops are opening and we need a system for finding positive cases. The virus has not disappeared, so in order to avoid a higher number of new patients, we have to be able to detect them effectively,” said Prymula.
Smart Quarantine should significantly ease the workload on regional hygiene stations and improve the efficiency of the current sample collection system. “It is a meaningful and important project that is crucial for all of us. Smart Quarantine will replace the universal restrictive measures and speed up our return to normal life,” Minister Vojtěch added.
Smart Quarantine is complemented by the eRouška application, which people can download to their smartphones for free. This is a voluntary tool but can help hygienists more easily and quickly find the people who have recently come into contact with infected people and who are at a high risk of infection. “They just have to download the app and let it run in the background,” said the minister about the app.
“This is a unique project, created through prompt cooperation among the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Defence, the Czech Army, the Integrated Rescue Services of the Czech Republic, and the private sector. We have managed to prepare a project of a scope that would take months, maybe even years, to prepare under normal circumstances, within mere weeks,” Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch said when presenting the project.
According to Deputy Minister of Health Roman Prymula, the restrictions on travel abroad will probably be eased in the next weeks.
“Slovakia and Croatia are considered as possibilities, but we need an agreement with the respective countries which would have to open their borders to Czech holidaymakers”.
“The Czech government is under pressure to open at least a few holiday “channels” out of the country,” he added.
In mid-June, the situation will be more clear. Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) added that the government will continue to explore the possibility of free travel.
Croatia was the most popular foreign destination for Czechs in 2018. According to data from the Czech Statistical Office, 813,000 Czech tourists spent their holidays there.
More than five million Czechs went on holiday abroad last year.
On March 14, the government put a ban on entering the territory of the Czech Republic for all arriving foreigners except for foreigners with permanent or temporary (over 90 day-long) residency in the Czech Republic. All people entering the territory of the Czech Republic are subject to a fourteen-day mandatory quarantine unless stated otherwise, subject to exceptions.
With effect from April 14th, foreigners residing in the Czech Republic, like Czech citizens, are able to travel abroad, with the possibility of returning during the state of emergency.
The purpose of travel must be in accordance with the exceptions to the prohibition of free movement imposed by the Ministry of Health.
It is therefore limited to necessary and justified cases only (e.g. fulfillment of official duties, work abroad, etc.), which will have to be proven individually to the police at border crossings. Diplomatic notice from an embassy is therefore no longer required.
The new coronavirus has brought Czech life to a near standstill, closing businesses, canceling large gatherings, and keeping people at home. All of those people must surely be wondering: When will things return to normal?
The answer is simple, if not exactly satisfying: when enough of the population—possibly 60 or 80 percent of people—is resistant to COVID-19 to stifle the disease’s spread from person to person. That is the end goal, although no one knows exactly how long it will take to get there.
Meanwhile, the Czech government decided that when restaurants and bars will open again its doors to the public, visitors have to maintain a social distance. This was announced on Tuesday by Deputy Minister of Health Roman Prymula.
According to him, at the moment no one can tell the exact date for lifting restrictions on restaurants. However, he suggested that the end of April could be a very realistic deadline.
Everyone – for some more time, probably one month – will be required to keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters between themselves and other people.
Degrees of normalcy will likely be won back in before summer. Czechs might get restaurants but no music festivals, offices but no crowded public spaces, bars with spaced-out seating.
What’s happening in China
Officials are relaxing restrictions very slowly and methodically. Many restaurants at first reopened with shortened hours and for a limited number of customers; now, doors are open to all.
Primary and secondary schools in several provinces have reopened, but only in communities free of the disease, and schools must check students’ temperatures and watch for symptoms. Universities, where students from around the country mix, remain closed, with classes taught online.
Events that draw crowds are still banned or discouraged. Live music venues and gyms in many cities remain closed. There are temperature checks at subway entrances and factory gates.
A number of local governments had allowed cinemas to reopen, but last week the national government decided it was too early and closed all theaters for the time being. People keep their distance in public and at work. Millions continue to work from home.