Czech Republic closes shops, curbs movement as COVID-19 cases spike

The Czech government on Wednesday decided to close most shops and services in the country and strictly restrict the movement of residents as of Thursday to curb one of the world’s fastest growing COVID-19 infection rates.

As part of the new measures, which will remain in force until Nov. 3, assemblies of more than two people who are not in the same household or work together will be banned. “The measures, while quite robust and burdensome for the population, are absolutely necessary,” Health Minister Roman Prymula told a news conference.

He justified the move by saying that the country’s health system could be overwhelmed without immediate action. The measures — which resemble those in force during the first lockdown this spring — allow people to visit shops to buy essential items, make necessary family visits and travel to parks and the countryside.

On Tuesday, the Czech Health Ministry reported 11,984 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily number since the pandemic outbreak. As the world is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, countries including Germany, Italy, China, Russia, Britain and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.

According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 19, there were 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 44 of them were in clinical trials.