New arrival rules for the Czech Republic
Since 1 March, a new protective measure of the Ministry of Health has been in effect, yet again tightening the rules for arrival from abroad and changing the existing ‘traffic light’ system (Semafor). For the purposes of this measure, foreign countries have been classified into four categories according to the risk of contracting COVID-19. Changes have also been made to some obligations that both Czech citizens and foreigners must meet upon arrival in the Czech Republic.
Currently, foreigners are allowed to enter the Czech Republic only for defined reasons, such as travel for work, business, to take care of children, relatives or animals, to attend to urgent official matters, to study or to return to one’s place of residence. The rules that must be observed upon arrival depend on the risk category of the traveller’s country of origin, and apply to both foreigners and Czech citizens.
Countries are now divided into safe countries, i.e. those with a low risk of infection (green), countries with a medium and high risk of infection (orange and red), and countries with a very high risk (dark red), with the strictest rules for entering the Czech Republic.
Travellers arriving from low-risk countries are not subject to any restrictions upon arrival, and are only subject to the general rules of the anti-epidemic system (PES).
Travellers arriving from orange, red and dark red countries are required to fill in an arrival form before traveling, and present it upon request; the arrival form (Public Health Passenger Locator Form) is available in Czech and English. Persons travelling from countries with a medium and high risk of infection must also show an antigen test not older than 24 hours, or an RT-PCR test not older than 72 hours. Persons travelling from countries with a very high risk of infection must show an RT-PCR test not older than 72 hours.
This protective measure now also covers situations where it is not realistically possible to take the test in the country of departure: Czech citizens and their family members travelling from selected countries may substitute the pre-arrival test with a diplomatic note issued by the Czech embassy in that country.
An additional obligation upon arrival is to undergo an RT-PCR test in the Czech Republic. This only applies to travellers from countries with a high risk of infection, who must be tested within 5 days after arrival, and to travellers from countries with a very high risk of infection, who must test no earlier than 5 days and no later than 14 days after arrival. For both these groups, travellers must self-isolate until they receive negative test results. During self-isolation, their free movement is restricted and does not include trips to work. Restrictions of free movement now also apply to persons under the age of five, but only for five days. Persons travelling from a country with a medium risk of infection are obliged to submit a negative test only upon entering a workplace or educational institution. This obligation newly also applies to children who attend kindergarten. All groups are obliged to wear respirators in selected places for 14 days from entering the Czech Republic.
The protective measure provides for a number of exceptions to the above rules. For instance, people who have recovered from a SARS-CoV–2 infection in the last 90 days and have a medical report to support this do not need to self-isolate or take the control test. Exempted are also persons travelling to work across the border, if they can show an official certificate issued by their employer.
With the extension of the state of emergency, the exception regarding employer changes has been extended too: during the state of emergency, foreigners holding an employee card may change employers without having to meet the condition of six months of previous employment in the Czech Republic.
Due to the dynamic development of the situation, we recommend monitoring the measures issued by the Ministry of Health closely; you may also contact us for a consultation.