Impact of health ministry’s protective measures on travel and employment in the CR
Since 5 October 2020, a new protective measure of the Ministry of Health has been in effect, aiming to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in the country. The measure restricts the crossing of borders by both Czech citizens and foreigners, and is closely linked to the ministry’s continuously updated list of states, dividing them into low-risk, low-risk with PCR test required, and high-risk countries.
The conditions for entering our territory and the rules to be observed for a certain period of time after entering the territory have been set depending on the country from which a person arrives in the Czech Republic.
Citizens of low-risk (green) countries can usually travel to the Czech Republic without restrictions, unless they stayed in a high-risk country for more than 12 hours in the last 14 days. Citizens of some low-risk countries where the epidemiological situation is worse are subject to certain restrictions if they plan to work in the Czech Republic.
Citizens of high-risk (red) states remain prohibited from entering Czech territory, with some exceptions. Exceptions apply, e.g., to holders of long-term residence permits in the Czech Republic, and in some cases, to family members or workers in international transport.
Highly important is the change in the rules for entering the Czech Republic from high-risk countries. All persons, including Czech citizens, who stayed for more than 12 hours in the last 14 days in these countries, must notify the relevant Regional Public Health Office of their arrival in advance, by completing an electronic arrival form. Proof of completion of this form must be provided, upon request, at the border/residence check and to bus/air travel service providers, if relevant. Arriving persons must also undergo a SARS-CoV-2 test within five days of entering and submit the results to the relevant Regional Public Health Office within seven days. In some cases, this can be substituted by a negative test not older than 72 hours carried out in another EU member state. At the same time, persons entering the Czech Republic from high-risk countries must limit their movements during the first 10 days and wear respiratory protective equipment throughout this time. This duty does not apply to Czech citizens and some foreigners – holders of long-term residence permits, provided that their travel was a part of a package tour to specified tourist destinations.
The measure also brings changes in the employment of some foreigners. Foreigners from high-risk countries and foreigners from low-risk countries with required PCR test who stayed there for more than 12 hours in the last 14 days shall also be subject to the above mentioned restriction of movement for 10 days. An exception is the travel to employment: workers may attend work even before the expiry of the 10-day period, on the condition that they present to the employer a negative SARS-CoV test; otherwise, the employer must not let them enter the workplace. The above mentioned exception for package tour participants applies here as well. Please note that unlike under the previous emergency measure, the obligation to submit a second test at the time of taking up employment has been dropped.
The arrival of foreigners may also be complicated by continuing limited operation of embassies. Since the beginning of August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic has reopened most Czech embassies abroad, but many of them continue to operate in limited mode only. In some countries, the submission and approval of applications may therefore continue to be delayed. The embassy in Chile remains closed until further notice.
Considering the development of the epidemiological situation, it can be assumed that the rules for both entering the Czech Republic and the functioning of embassies abroad are not final. The situation needs to be closely monitored and assessed, especially as changes are taking place very quickly and their interpretation is not always clear.