Czech President Milos Zeman Says Nation’s Borders Should Stay Closed for a Year to Prevent Second Wave of COVID-19
RT, April 20, 2020
The Czech Republic is about to start easing its coronavirus quarantine restrictions. The move is unlikely to cover foreign travel, however, as the nation’s president says borders should stay closed for a long time.
The borders should remain closed for at least one year, Zeman told Czech radio station Frekvence 1, warning that people travelling abroad and returning home could bring the virus to the republic once again if they happen to visit areas where Covid-19 is still spreading.
Under the current restrictions, which have been in place since March 16, Czechs can only travel abroad in “urgent cases.” Zeman advised his fellow countrymen who want to spend their vacations abroad to enjoy “beautiful Czech landscapes” instead.
The president’s recommendations appear to be in line with the plans of the Health Ministry. Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula said as early as March that foreign travel could be restricted for a year, or even two. Health Minister Adam Vojtech was less strict in his assessment, as he considered the possibility of allowing citizens to visit some European nations that have only been slightly affected by the epidemic, such as Croatia or Slovakia.
The government has so far maintained that it is too early to speak about any specific plans. “We do not know at present whether a second or third wave will come. We may have some plans now, but we will know more at the end of May,” Vojtech said last week.
The Czech Republic has reported more than 6,660 confirmed coronavirus cases to date, with 181 deaths linked to Covid-19. These numbers are significantly smaller than those reported by the worst affected European nations such as Italy or Spain, where the disease has infected more than 175,000 and 190,000 people respectively and claimed tens of thousands of lives.