PRAGUE — Following an extraordinary Cabinet meeting Sunday, the Czech government announced that most COVID-19 restrictions will be eased starting Thursday.
All restaurants and pubs will be allowed to reopen, with limited indoor seating. Non-essential shops and fitness centers will also reopen as long as there’s only one person per 15 square meters. Religious services may resume, and a nighttime curfew will be lifted.
In addition, the government raised the number of people allowed to congregate outdoors from six to 50 and rescinded a ban on the consumption of alcohol in public. However, it will keep in place a mandate to wear masks in all indoor spaces and in selected public places.
The announcement came after ministers decided unanimously to move the country to a less dangerous risk assessment, based on dropping daily infection and hospitalization numbers.
Meanwhile, most schools will reopen, with mandatory mask-wearing and weekly alternating classes to keep the class size small, starting December 7.
However, Health Minister Jan Blatný cautioned Czechs about expecting more broad easing this year.
“It’s extremely unlikely that by the end of the year we will reach a lower [risk] level,” Blatný said.
The Czech Republic went into its second lockdown in October after its per capita case and death rates soared to levels that were among the highest in the world.
As of Sunday, the Czech Republic had recorded 518,649 cases, or nearly 5 percent of the population, and 8,054 deaths. At 567 cases per 100,000 people, its 14-day average infection rate is now in the middle tier of European countries, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.