Travellers’ Traffic Light (Semafor) changing colours
On 9 November 2020, the Czech Ministry of Health disclosed a measure regulating the rules for foreign nationals arriving and staying in the Czech Republic. Countries are divided into three groups according to the level of risk of infection and are designated by the traffic light colours green, orange and red.
The ministry itself calls the measure the Travellers’ Traffic Light (Semafor). The list of green and orange designated countries has been modified by this measure and is available at the ministry’s website. Foreigners arriving to the Czech Republic from the designated countries must adhere to certain rules and duties.
Foreign nationals arriving from green countries must proceed in accordance with the rules applicable before the outbreak of COVID-19. If such foreigners did not spend at least 12 hours in the last 14 days in the territory of an orange or red state, they neither have to undergo any tests nor fill in arrival forms. Moreover, such foreigners do not have to submit any test results before commencing employment or education.
The arrival of foreign nationals from orange countries (marked with an asterisk (*) on the list) is generally not restricted or subject to any specific conditions. A test on the presence of COVID-19 must only be submitted to if the foreigner spent at least 12 hours in the last 14 days in the territory of an orange or red state under the conditions specified in the measure. Workers who must undergo testing may not be let into their workplace unless they provide negative test results (the same duty applies to educational institutions in relation to students and teachers).
The strictest rules apply to foreigners arriving from red countries, i.e. those with the highest risk of infection and not included in the list of low-risk countries. Foreigners arriving from red countries must fill in arrival forms before their entry, and within seven days of their arrival must submit to the respective public health offices the results of their tests undergone in the Czech Republic. EU citizens and non-EU citizens having long-term and residence permits in another EU member state form an exception to this rule: they may submit test results not older than 72 hours and done in another EU member state. The rules for entering the workplace or an educational institution are the same as for foreigners arriving from orange countries.
The protective measure as amended on 16 November introduces a number of exceptions from the above duties. The duty to undergo a test and complete an arrival form does not apply to foreigners passing through the CR and not staying more than 12 hours, as well as foreigners arriving in the CR for a period of less than 24 hours for urgent health, family, business or work reasons. The duties also do not apply to cross-border workers, pupils and students who at least once a week are crossing the Czech border to or from a neighbouring country for work or educational purposes.
The last area regulated by the protective measure is the receipt of applications for residential permits at Czech embassies abroad. Under the amended measure, it has become possible to apply for short-term visas at selected embassies as well. A list of embassies exempted from the ban on the acceptance of applications for residence permits has been published at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.