Respirators, an end to free tests, and strict pub checks. The government has adopted new measures

From 1 November, restaurateurs will have to check proof of the infection-free status of diners. The government approved the new measure after an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (ANO) confirmed. He also mentioned the return of respirators inside buildings, the end of free testing with exemptions, or the shortening of the quarantine period. On the other hand, the government disagreed on measures in schools and will continue to discuss this.

The requirement to show a certificate does not apply to takeaway food sales. In food courts in shopping centers, customers must present an infection-free certificate if asked to do so. Vojtěch told a press conference after the government meeting.

Guests can show proof of a completed vaccination, a COVID-19 disease, or a negative test in paper or digital form, such as through the Tečka app. Restaurant or bar staff will not allow people who do not have a valid certificate to enter or provide service, Vojtěch said.

The check itself does not have to take place right at the entrance; guests can also show their identification after being seated. Although he understands that this is a particular inconvenience for caterers, he said that the accelerating spread of coronavirus makes such a measure necessary.

On Wednesday, restaurateurs communicated to Minister Vojtěch their demand that laboratory tests continue to be covered by health insurance. The opposite would lead to a situation where people would gather uncontrollably in garages, for example.

Compulsory wearing of respirators is back

The government has also approved the mandatory wearing of respirators in all indoor areas, including workplaces, from 25 October. An exception will be made for people who sit alone in an office; otherwise, employees will not be required to wear a respirator. It is now compulsory to wear respirators, for example, on public transport or in shops.

Reimbursement of preventive testing by public health insurance will also be limited from November. The once-weekly antigen and twice-monthly PCR tests will only be covered for people under 18 years of age, those vaccinated after the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and those who cannot be vaccinated due to contraindications.

Tests ordered by a physician or public health officials will continue to be free. The government has also agreed to shorten the period of validity of a negative test as confirmation of infection-free status. The validity will be reduced from seven days to three for PCR tests and from 72 hours to 24 hours for antigen tests.

The government also approved an exemption for children under 12 years of age, who will no longer prove they are infection-free. Until now, they had to have a test or a certificate of having had a covid. Next week, Vojtech said the quarantine period for contacts of infected people would also be reduced to seven days if they complete it with a negative PCR test.

However, as far as measures in schools are concerned, the government has not yet been able to agree on a uniform procedure there. Vojtech said the cabinet would continue to discuss this in the coming days.