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Czechs to fully reopen restaurants, bars, admit some foreign tourists - Metro US

Czechs to fully reopen restaurants, bars, admit some foreign tourists

FILE PHOTO: Prague's Old Town Square during the coronavirus pandemic

PRAGUE (Reuters) -Czech restaurants, bars and nightclubs can serve customers indoors from Monday, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said, announcing a quicker-than-planned easing of COVID-19 restrictions following a court ruling.

The Czech Republic will also open up to tourists from some European and overseas countries who have at least had their first COVID-19 shot, effective Tuesday.

The Czech government, which has been battling one of the world’s most severe second waves of the pandemic, had planned to open indoor facilities from mid-June.

But last week the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that blanket restrictions on restaurants were illegal, acting on a complaint filed by a customer.

“I am not entirely happy that we have to make such a radical easing in one moment. If it were not for the court ruling, then I would suggest sticking to the June 14 date (planned for reopening),” Vojtech told a televised news conference on Friday.

Restaurants have been allowed to serve customers outdoors since May 17. Schools have also reopened.

From Monday, swimming pools, saunas and casinos will also be allowed to reopen, while the numbers allowed at shows and sports events will rise.

For restaurants, self-tests for COVID-19 will suffice, while for all other venues that are allowed to reopen people will have to get tested professionally, Vojtech said.

As of Tuesday, the country will let in vaccinated visitors from Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Austria, and Germany, as well as Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. Croatia should join the list too, but the deal has yet to be finalised, the foreign ministry said.

As of Friday morning, the seven-day number of reported cases per 100,000 dropped to 34. Earlier this year, the Czech Republic had one of the highest per capita COVID-19 infection and death rates in the world.

The number of daily vaccinations has reached around 100,000. The country of 10.7 million has distributed 5 million doses of vaccines in total so far, and 1.37 million people have now received two doses.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Robert Muller, writing by Jason Hovet; editing by Gareth Jones and Nick Macfie)

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