Relaxing the rules for short-term business trips and employment of EU citizens
With the decreasing numbers of patients infected by the COVID-19 disease, certain measures imposed by the Government and affecting Czech employers and the entry of foreigners – EU citizens and third-country nationals – to the Czech Republic have gradually been loosened since April 27. In many cases, these measures effectively prevented employment in the Czech Republic. The most important changes are summarised below.
Entering the Czech Republic to perform work in the country
EU citizens are newly allowed to travel to the Czech Republic for work without the requirement for a valid residence permit. Under the relevant regulation, foreigners arriving in the country to work here are divided into two categories – those staying for up to 72 hours and those who will stay longer.
Foreigners in the first category are required to submit a confirmation of a negative COVID-19 test when crossing the border. The test must not be more than four days old and must not be a rapid test. Furthermore, they have to submit a confirmation proving the purpose of their stay in the Czech Republic. The entity issuing such a confirmation to the foreigner must ensure that they comply with the security measures otherwise applicable to employees of the critical infrastructure (i.e. sectors necessary to ensure the operation of society and the economy). Foreigners can thus travel to the Czech Republic for a short time, e.g. for a business trip, to discharge the office of executive director or in relation to professional sports or artistic activities.
Also foreigners coming for a longer period of time must submit a negative test that is not older than four days. In addition, they have to undergo a new test in the Czech Republic between the 10th and 14th day after their arrival. Foreigners must report their expected arrival through the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this case, too, the border force officers will check the documents proving the purpose of the foreigner’s stay in the country (e.g. employment contract, instruction for a business trip). Employers are obliged to arrange for accommodation, transport and medical care for such foreigners.
In both cases, when crossing the border, the foreigners first have to endure a check for the symptoms of the disease and then, throughout their stay or for a period of two weeks, should they stay longer, they must obey strict restrictions of free movement, allowing only expressly permitted necessary trips (such as trips to work and back, trips to satisfy the basic needs, care for a child, visits to official authorities).
Family members of Czech citizens and EU citizens having temporary or permanent residence in the Czech Republic may also travel to the country from 14 April. They only need to present a negative test together with a birth or marriage certificate; instead of undergoing the test, they can opt for a 14-day quarantine.
Leaving the Czech Republic
Czech travellers were thrilled to hear that the Czech Republic would allow its citizens and holders of residence permits to travel abroad. Once they return, they have to submit a negative test or stay in quarantine unless their trip is covered by an exemption (e.g. traveling for work for no more than three days, emergency travel for less than 24 hours).
Cross-border workers (or “pendlers”) represent a speciﬁc group deserving special attention. They may newly cross borders as they wish, without the necessity to stay for a two-week quarantine every time they arrive in the other country. However, they have to present a negative test when crossing the border for the first time, and then undergo a new test every two weeks.
The rules for crossing borders are constantly changing. Unless the situation regarding the spread of the infection worsens, it can be expected that the current measures will be further loosened. In the coming weeks, the Government should also focus on relaxing the restrictions applicable to third-country nationals, who have not been considered a priority group so far.