While rollouts of vaccinations against COVID 19 have been happening in many countries to varying degrees since the beginning of this year, it looks as though things have really turned a corner at least in the U.S. when it comes to having well over a majority of its population vaccinated in time for summer.
Other nations, for various reasons, have not had as much success, and that has included the Czech Republic. However, just this week we here are starting to turn a corner, too, when it comes to vaccines. Just today the New York Times published an article titled “E.U. Set to Let Vaccinated U.S. Tourists Visit This Summer.”
Greetings from Prague as we move into the Holiday Season!
Another Spike in the Autumn
In Prague and throughout the Czech Republic, we had another outbreak of the Coronavirus when children returned to school (and locals returned from their summer travels elsewhere in Europe). This caused the government to again enact strict measures to contain the virus, with eventually everything closed except for grocery stores, pharmacies and medical facilities. This time around we even had a curfew imposed from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., and unlike the first shutdown in March, ALL shops were closed on Sundays.
While Prague continues to open up from its strict Coronavirus lockdown, it still has not fully opened to foreign travel – for either visitors coming in or Czechs wishing to go abroad. So for the first time since the days of communism, really, locals are having their city to themselves.
In efforts to promote domestic travel & tourism, hotels & tourists sites are offering all manner of discounts & coupons, with some luxury brands that previously catered almost solely to foreigners, such as the Four Seasons, offering special packages to suit a local budget. The government has also issued coupons for hotels to give to guests that provide reduced entry into various sites.
After two months in COVID lockdown, Prague is opening up!
And things are happening quickly.
Just this month we’ve seen:
In my last blog post, I reported that the Czech Republic had begun to ease Coronavirus restrictions. This decision was made after we had good results from a five-week strict lockdown.
So Far, so good
Naturally, there was some concern about whether easing too soon might tempt people to let down their guard completely, given that we had all been indoors isolating for so long and the spring weather was beautiful.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve been documenting the Czech Republic’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak. You will also know that the results have been pretty good, and that continues to be the case.
For more on the steps that have been taken since the beginning of the outbreak, see my earlier blog posts:
March 4, 2020
March 9, 2020
March 12, 2020
March 13, 2020
March 16, 2020
March 20, 2020
March 23, 2020
March 31, 2020
I’d like to give you another update on the Coronavirus outbreak in the Czech Republic.
The Results Continue to be Positive
As I reported in my last post, the strict measures that were enacted by the Czech government when it realized that: a) Italy’s infection rates were exploding and its hospitals were overwhelmed, and b) lots of Czechs were in Italy on skiing holidays for the winter school break have been paying off.
From our first three cases diagnosed on March 2nd to March 30th, we now have 3,001 confirmed cases of COVID in the Czech Republic. Although that's a big increase, we've not seen exponential growth, and our hospitals still have the capacity to treat the sick.
Sadly, since my last post, we’ve now had our first deaths – the number is now 23. Almost all deaths were people over 70 and/or with underlying health issues. Twenty-five people have recovered from the disease.
strict measures appear to be paying off
As you know if you've followed my recent posts, the Czech Government has enacted strict measures in an attempt to "flatten the curve" (a phrase we are all very familiar with now) of the Coronavirus outbreak here. And I'm happy to say that it appears that it might be paying off.
On Sunday we passed the 1,000 mark in terms of the number of infected people, but so far, we have had NO deaths due to the disease, and 6 people have recovered. That is certainly wonderful news!
I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but things continue to change by the hour here in Prague.
In my last post, I reported that the whole Czech Republic went into full quarantine on Monday. That meant:
Things are still moving quickly here in the Czech Republic. Friday I posted that restaurants and bars were required to close at 8:00 p.m., but by the time Friday was over, that was tightened to where restaurants and bars had to close altogether except to serve food or coffee to go through windows. Furthermore, all shops other than grocery stores and pharmacies were ordered to close.
As you can see from the photo above, the weather was very nice on the weekend, so after staying in as recommended most of the week, I went out for a walk on both Saturday and Sunday. I was surprised to see so many people out and about. While most shops were closed, cafes and restaurants at least had personnel inside with signs posted saying they will serve food and drinks through a window. Some were selling their unprepared food supplies, as the order to close came suddenly and they were fully stocked. I bought some (overpriced) vegetables from an Italian restaurant (some beautiful imported eggplant) just to help them out. But otherwise, because it was warm and sunny, I guess, lots of people were out and about drinking coffee and eating pastries, so in some respects it looked almost like a normal weekend in the neighborhood.
I am an American who has been living in Prague for two decades. After a long career in international finance, I left the business world to pursue other interests. I now work as a writer, mentor and guide to the city.