Czechs and Slovaks Join European Crackdown on the Unvaccinated
(Bloomberg) -- The Czech Republic and neighboring Slovakia joined a wave of European Union countries cracking down on unvaccinated people as they struggle to deal with record surges in new cases of Covid-19.
The Czech government ruled that as of Monday, only those who are fully vaccinated or have had the virus in the past six months will be allowed to enter restaurants, use services such as hairdressers or attend cultural or sporting events. The government will also order mass testing at workplaces and continue blanket testing at schools, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Thursday.
Next door, Slovakia’s government agreed to ban unimmunized people from entering shopping malls and fitness centers and to restrict the maximum number of people at cultural events. That follows a push by a raft of EU countries to raise restrictions on those who haven’t received innoculation shots, with Austria imposing the most draconian: a complete lockdown on the unvaccinated.
With both nations’ vaccination rates lagging the EU average at below 60%, authorities are fighting record contagion as the delta coronavirus variant rips across Europe. The Czech Republic, a nation of 10.7 million reported 22,511 new cases on Tuesday while the same day Slovakia, with half of the population, had 8,342. Both were records.
Babis, who called the situation “serious” and lashed out at unvaccinated people he said had ignored months of calls from his government to get shots, said on Thursday that he expects the mass testing regime to be in place for three months.
The cabinet also plans to renew a program to provide businesses with financial compensation if they’re hit by the curbs and will discuss the details on Monday, he said.
In nearby Hungary, the government will expand a mask mandate to indoor spaces -- instead of only on mass transit now -- from Saturday, Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyas said
The country is already fighting one of the fastest-rising rates of Covid-19 infections and deaths globally. Vaccination certificates will be required to attend events with more than 500 participants, he said.
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