Czechs to speed up exit from coronavirus lockdown

The Czech government said Thursday it would speed up its planned exit from the current coronavirus lockdown as it seeks to get its economy back on its feet.

Trade minister Karel Havlicek said that the lockdown — imposed since mid-March to stem the spread of COVID-19 — would now end on May 25 instead of June 8 as originally scheduled.

“We can permit ourselves to lift restrictions more rapidly — it’s not possible to lose a day when it comes to trade opportunities,” Havlicek told reporters.

Libraries and zoos will be able to reopen from April 27.

Bars and restaurants will be open their outside terraces from May 11, but customers will only be served inside again starting from May 25, two weeks earlier than planned, the government said.

The government had been waiting for the results of a series of epidemiological tests carried out over the Easter weekend before taking the decision.

The Czech Republic was now ready to move towards “a staged relaxation (of restrictions) comparable to that under way in Germany and Austria,” Havlicek said.

Earlier Thursday, a Prague court quashed a number of restrictions imposed by the health ministry, including the closure of certain shops, giving the government until Monday to adjust legislation accordingly.

The Czech Republic has so far registered 7,138 COVID-19 cases since the first was reported on March 1. Some 210 people have died of the disease and 2,152 are considered to have recovered. (AFP)