"Semafor" – new rules for travelling across the Czech border

On 1 June 2020, the government approved the Ministry of Health’s new protective measure entering into effect on Monday 15 June. The measure is called "Semafor", owing to its visual similarity to traffic lights. It regulates the conditions for travelling abroad and reentering the Czech Republic for both Czech citizens and foreign nationals.

"Semafor" divides the EU and Schengen Area countries into three groups – green, orange, and red – according to the level of infection risk, which is regularly disclosed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The Ministry of Health should assess this data once a week and change the group allocation of individual countries when and where appropriate.

In recent weeks, arrivals to the Czech Republic were associated with the duty to undergo a PCR COVID swab test or an obligatory fourteen-day quarantine. Semafor cancels this condition for some travels as follows:
 

Low-risk countries (green) – Persons who may travel to the CR without a need to undergo the PCR test or quarantine are:

  • Czech citizens, foreign nationals with permanent or temporary residence in the CR longer than 90 days
  • EU/Schengen Area citizens with permanent or temporary residence in these countries and their family members (especially spouses and children)
  • third country nationals enjoying the status of long-term resident of an EU/Schengen Area country and their family members (especially spouses and children).

For other persons, the existing rules remain in application, i.e. they may only arrive under some of the exceptions permitted by the protective measure.
 

Medium-risk countries (orange) – Only Czech citizens and foreign nationals with permanent or temporary residence in the CR longer than 90 days may arrive in the CR from these countries without undergoing a PCR test or quarantine. For other persons, the existing rules remain in application, i.e. they may only arrive under some of the exceptions permitted by the protective measure.
 

High-risk countries (red) – Only Czech citizens and foreign nationals with permanent or temporary residence in the CR longer than 90 days may arrive in the CR from these countries while being obligated to undergo the PCR test or a fourteen-day quarantine. For other persons, the existing rules remain in application, i.e. they may only arrive under some of the exceptions permitted by the protective measure.

As any further developments of the coronavirus outbreak cannot be reliably predicted, it may happen that the list of countries in individual groups will be amended in both directions.

"The Semafor" measure will become effective on Monday 15 June 2020. Until then, arrival in the CR is only possible under some of the exceptions permitted by the protective measures. A general duty to submit a negative PCR test or to report one’s entry to the public health office with local jurisdiction that will decide about a quarantine remain in application. Exceptions from this duty currently in effect include citizens of Hungary, Austria, Germany and Slovakia, as well as other EU citizens holding permanent or temporary residence permits in these countries for more than 90 days if they enter the CR via the border of one of these states. Czech citizens returning to the CR from their stay in these countries only are also relieved of the duty to undergo a test or quarantine. 

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