Matt Atlas

Czech Republic Tightens Coronavirus Restrictions

The Czech government further tightened social-distancing measures as the country struggles to stem one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in Europe.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s cabinet imposed stricter rules for hotels, allowing them to accept only business travelers without family members, and also completely banned operations of ski lifts as mountain regions are registering the fastest increases in infections, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek told reporters. He urged people to limit family visits.

After one of the most successful campaigns to halt the pandemic last spring, the Czech Republic now has one of the highest numbers on the continent in new infections and deaths per capita. This is putting the health-care system under pressure as authorities also detected a faster-spreading virus variant among patients.

Following a brief easing before Christmas, the government was forced to shut most schools, shops, services and restaurants when infections started surging again near the end of last year.

Neighboring Germany and Austria are tightening rules for cross-border travel with the Czech Republic, requiring negative Covid-19 tests to allow entry.

The nation of 10.7 million has about 6,000 people hospitalized with Covid-19, and has recorded 15,944 deaths linked to the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.