Leaders in the Czech Republic said on Thursday that further Covid restrictions would be introduced as the country experiences some of its highest caseloads since the pandemic began.
Starting on Monday, people without a vaccination pass or proof of a previous Covid infection will not be allowed into the country’s restaurants or bars or be able to use indoor services such as hair salons. They will also be barred from attending large events.
The country recorded 22,511 Covid cases on Tuesday, the highest number since the pandemic began, but the streets of Prague were full a day later as people celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that toppled the Communist regime.
About 10,000 of those gathered used the opportunity to protest Covid restrictions and vaccinations, according to the police.
Only 58 percent of people in the Czech Republic are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, placing the country in the bottom half of European Union statistics. To raise the numbers, the government has started a media campaign showing pictures of people who have died from Covid.
“The situation is critical, and we do not have time,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Wednesday, also acknowledging on Twitter that previous restrictions had proved insufficient.
His government, which lost elections in October, has been criticized for not acting fast enough during the crisis. Many analysts believe that the electoral campaign was a significant factor in the government’s decision not to introduce unpopular restrictions earlier.
A center-right government, under Petr Fiala, is expected to take power next week.