The Czech Republic plans to further tighten social-distancing rules to stem the European Union’s worst coronavirus surge — without repeating the economic paralysis from this spring.
The government will on Monday decide on more steps to limit human contacts after it already banned cultural and sports events, closed some schools and ordered bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m. Finance Minister Alena Schillerova said the measures will be an “improved version” of the quarantine regime from March. Health Minister Roman Prymula said he wouldn’t call them a lockdown.
The country of 10.7 million is now suffering the most acute epidemic among European Union states. New infections reached a record of 8,618 cases on Friday, after exceeding 5,000 in two previous days.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s administration is trying to stem the outbreak after it removed social-distancing rules in the summer and fully reopened schools in September. The nation has leapfrogged Spain as the EU’s top hotspot based on the two-week cumulative number of cases per capita, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
“We will have to very fundamentally restrict gatherings,” Schillerova told public television. “We won’t shut down the economy, we won’t shut down the manufacturing industry.”
The cabinet will discuss the new measures with trade unions and opposition parties. A news conference is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in Prague.
The worsening pandemic is worrying some investors. The koruna is the third-worst performer among emerging-market currencies, after Argentinian peso and Turkish lira, since the start of September.
The government still needs to agree on specifics, but it won’t impose restrictions that would halt all activity or completely ban people from leaving homes, Prymula tol CNN Prima News late on Sunday.
“It will be a certain tightening of the measures, but it won’t be anything dramatic compared to what’s in place now,” he said. “So I don’t think that it can be characterized as a lockdown.”
(Updates with government meeting schedule in sixth paragraph.)
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