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Czechs Shut Down Shops, Warning That Health System May Collapse

Anti Mask Protest in Czech captial city Prague on October 18, 2020


Czech Republic has more new Covid-19 cases per million people recorded than in any other major country in the world | Several US states even worse though

By Lenka Ponikelska for Bloomberg – The Czech government imposed a partial economic shutdown to combat Europe’s worst current coronavirus outbreak, warning that if the country can’t stop its spread the hospital system may collapse by early next month.

After registering a new daily record of new cases of Covid-19, Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s government decreed all non-essential shops must shut down starting Thursday. It also banned people from leaving home except for buying essentials and commuting to and from work, as well as meeting more than one non-family member at a time outside.

“The reason why we are doing this is hospital bed capacity,” Babis said in a televised news conference Wednesday. “Even though we have a robust health-care system, one of the most robust in Europe, if we didn’t take these measures, it would collapse between Nov. 7 and 11.”

Authorities recorded 11,984 new cases and 42 deaths on Tuesday. More people have died with Covid-19 in the past two weeks than from March to end-September.

Babis has for months rejected imposing an economic lockdown, and in August he overruled a decision to require mandatory mask wearing by a health minister who later resigned. At the news conference the premier apologized, saying easing restrictions during the summer had been a mistake and that the current explosion of contagion had been “unimaginable” then.

“Huge number of infected people that are under the radar”

Health Minister Roman Prymula said the worrying trend was the “extremely high” share of positive tests, currently at 32%. “That means there is a huge number of infected people that are under the radar and hospitals would be overrun,” he said.

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