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Monday, February 22 will bring more changes.

Pupils to return to school and shops to open: The government loosens the screws and explains its strategy

Kateřina Ostrejšová
16.Feb 2021
+ Add on Seznam.cz
2 minutes to read
Jan Blatný

Starting next week, we will see big changes in the Czech Republic. The government has announced the reopening of stores. However, this will not be entirely easy, with strict rules for staff to prevent a sharp rise in positive coronavirus cases. The changes should also apply to pupils and students, who are supposed to return to school in March. However, education will have to run in a trial version; antigen tests will be a must.

Respirators will be a condition for the opening of stores

From Monday, February 22, it will be possible to hit the shops again. Hygiene measures will be even stricter this time, but according to the Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček, there's no sense waiting and it's not possible to make the restrictions permanent.

"The opening of retail stores is a significant shift. It's a big psychological moment. After a long time, people will see the light at the end of the tunnel, we're going to go about it slowly, and if we manage, it's a big signal that we can continue with loosenig the measures. I am convinced that we can make it together,"

Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček wrote on Twitter.

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Karel Havlíček.
Karel Havlíček. Source: Ladislav Křivan / MAFRA / Profimedia

Staff in the stores that decide to open from next week will have to use FFP2 respirators. For customers, face masks will suffice. The rules should be further clarified within a week, but no surprises are to be expected. The number of customers per store will still be limited, and keeping a safe distance or disinfecting one's hands opon entering a store will be mandatory as well.

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Žena nakupuje v roušce.
Žena nakupuje v roušce. Source: Freepik.com

Cultural and sports facilities

The reopening of cultural and sports facilities has yet to be discussed. According to Havlíček, everything will depend on the further course of the pandemic. If the situation can be kept under control even after the stores have opened, culture and sport might follow.

The return of children to school will depend on testing

Pupils should return to school from March 1, but it will all depend on the availability of tests. The Ministry of Health needs to make a list of tests that can be obtained for schools in time. The return of at least part of the pupils to their classrooms was one of the conditions submitted by the governors when requesting the extension of the state of emergency by two weeks.

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Žáci v rouškách v lavici.
Žáci v rouškách v lavici.Source: Freepik.com

"In connection with the opening of schools from March 1, up to 3 million respirators for pedagogical and non-pedagogical staff will be distributed in schools as part of a pilot testing project,"

said Robert Plaga on Twitter. At this point, only kindergartens and special schools are open. Elementary schools only allow first and second grade pupils in. The rest of the education system operates in the distance learning modes.

Pronájem vily 10+3, 490m2, Praha
Pronájem vily 10+3, 490m2, Praha, Praha 5

Pupils and students will return in three waves

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Učitelka dezinfikuje žákům ruce.
Učitelka dezinfikuje žákům ruce. Source: Freepik.com

On March 1, students from the last years of secondary schools, conservatories and higher vocational schools will return. A week later, practical teaching will get the green light. On March 15, ninth graders will join the first and second grade students.

The loosening of school restrictions will be conditioned by testing, which will be compulsory for all pupils and school staff. Both the education system and the government will go through a trial period, which will show, whether testing can prevent the spread of coronavirus among children and teachers.

"But this is something that is not yet standardly used, so we are also discussing the specific method and implementation of the testing of students with the Ministry of Education. Further details will be presented in due course,"

said Barbora Peterová, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health.

A nose swab seems to be the safest

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has chosen a swab from the front of the nose as the best method to test students. According to the Minister of Health Jan Blatný, the method is painless. Pupils should undergo antigen testing twice a week.

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Zdravotnice testuje chlapce.
Zdravotnice testuje chlapce. Source: Freepik.com

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