Czech Republic Tightens COVID Restrictions, Will Keep Most Unvaccinated From Bars, Hotels

The Czech Republic has tightened COVID-19 restrictions as its infection rate continues to rise, limiting access to bars, hotels and more for any unvaccinated individuals, the Associated Press reported.

The Czech and Slovakia governments approved the new COVID restrictions on Thursday and will put them into place on Monday. According to Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech, unvaccinated people will no longer be able to rely on negative coronavirus tests to attend public events or go into restaurants, bars, museums and other public facilities. The restrictions are planned to stay in place until the end of February.

The stricter regulations came after Czech's daily COVID case count increased to 22,511 new cases on Tuesday, and the country's infection rate has risen to 819 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, up from 558 a week earlier.

Vojtech said the goal of the new restrictions is to motivate people to get vaccinated. Only people who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 will be able to enter public places, with the exception of partially vaccinated people, teens age 12 to 18 or those with medical conditions that do not allow vaccinations.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has tightened COVID-19 restrictions as its infection rate continues to rise, limiting access to bars, hotels and more for any unvaccinated individuals. Above, demonstrators gather to protest coronavirus restrictions during celebrations of the 32nd anniversary of the pro-democratic Velvet Revolution that ended communist rule in 1989, in Prague on November 17, 2021. Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said his government was inspired by similar measures imposed in the German state of Bavaria.

"The situation is serious and we again urge everyone to get vaccinated," Babis said.

A negative test will be enough for visitors to hospitals and nursing homes.

Additionally, the government is imposing mandatory testing for non-vaccinated employees of all companies once a week. Those who are over 60 and have been vaccinated will also have to be tested.

At the same time, the testing at elementary and high schools that was supposed to end on November 29 will continue.

In Slovakia, those who have not been vaccinated will be banned from all non-essential stores and shopping malls, starting on Monday.

They'll not be allowed to attend any public events and gatherings and will be required to test twice a week to go to work.

Only in the hardest hit parts of the country, fitness and wellness centers, restaurants and hotels will be closed for all.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger called the measures "a lockdown for the unvaccinated." They should be in place for three weeks but "we will react promptly if we can see the restrictions are not effective," Heger said.

Slovakia, a nation of 5.5 million, reported 8,342 new virus cases on Tuesday, surpassing the previous record of 7,244 set Friday.

Heger said Thursday some of the country's hospitals have been already overwhelmed.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have vaccination rates below the average of the European Union's 27 nations.