People have been using the public transport without respirators since the morning

The mandatory wearing of respirators on public transport ended on Thursday morning. The announced relaxation was approved by the government yesterday. It refers to the favorable development of the epidemic and the weather. Health Minister Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09) continues to recommend respirators in transport due to the higher concentration of people but does not mandate them.

They remain compulsory in inpatient social care facilities and health care facilities, including pharmacies. The minister said this could change at the beginning of May.

“Thanks to the responsibility of citizens, vaccination, correctly set measures, and the fact that the incidence of positive tests is decreasing, the government can abolish the compulsory wearing of masks and respirators from midnight, even on public transport,” announced Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS).

“After two years, we finally have the opportunity to enjoy Easter without restrictions and measures,” he added. And he asked people to continue to behave responsibly.

In indoor areas such as workplaces or shops, people could put away their respirators as early as mid-March. Some experts argued that if the government had waited a week or two, the number of newly infected could have fallen faster.

Every day, laboratories confirm infection in four to five thousand people, and the numbers have been falling in recent weeks, even as new, more contagious variants of COVID emerge. The proportion of positive tests is also falling.

Certificate of antigen test

There are about 1,300 people in hospitals with COVID, seventy of whom are in intensive care. Two weeks ago, hospitals reported over 2000 patients with COVID.

Since Wednesday, the ministry has also changed the conditions for recognizing tests for COVID. It will also be possible to obtain a certificate of having had COVID based on a positive antigen test from a sampling point if a person has obvious symptoms.

Only a PCR test could be used to prove that a person was infected. According to Válek, the AG tests used in the Czech Republic are of sufficient quality.

“The question is whether it will be necessary to continue to have a PCR test for purposes other than to verify what the mutation is,” he said.

Experts say it may not be that conclusive

“If antigen tests from reliable manufacturers are used, they can be taken at face value. And only if the test is repeated two to three times, ideally three days in a row,” virologist Libor Grubhoffer said.

People are still entitled to one preventive PCR test per month, covered by insurance companies. Otherwise, it costs around CZK 800. Antigen tests are no longer free. They cost around 200 crowns at collection points.