Czechs Follow Trump’s Lead and Ban Entry of Foreigners from 13 Countries

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis arrives for the second day of a special European Council summit in Brussels on February 21, 2020, held to discuss the next long-term budget of the European Union (EU). (Photo by Aris Oikonomou / AFP) (Photo by ARIS OIKONOMOU/AFP via Getty Images)
ARIS OIKONOMOU/AFP via Getty Images

The Czech Republic has followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s lead and banned the entry of foreigners from 13 countries that are considered high-risk coronavirus territories, including the United Kingdom, and has restricted borders with Austria and Germany.

Foreigners will not be able to enter the central European country who originate from China, South Korea, of Iran, but also those from the EU’s Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and France. Travellers from the UK and Switzerland are also banned.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš announced the measures on Thursday afternoon in the wake of President Trump banning travellers from 26 European Schengen Zone members from entering the United States for 30 days. The Czech Republic itself is one of the banned countries.

The nation also made the unusual move of barring their citizens from travel to those high-risk territories. The measures will be put in place from Saturday and will last for 30 days.

Movement from Austria and Germany will also be restricted, with travel between the countries only permissible via 11 border crossings, Radio Prague reports, and foreigners will not be able to enter the Czech territory from either Germany or Austria.

Czechs currently overseas will be able to return home, but those coming from high-risk countries will be automatically placed in quarantine. The Interior Ministry will also stop issuing all visas until further notice, the report adds.

The Czech prime minister announced restrictions on public gatherings, with pubs and restaurants closing by 8 pm and serving food at shopping malls will also be banned. Libraries, galleries, and sporting facilities will also be closed. Public gatherings of more than 30 people will be prohibited.

Police will be deployed to ensure that those ordered to self-isolate do so and do not risk infecting the rest of the population.

Prime Minister Babiš said in comments reported by Reuters: “It is clear there will be economic impacts. But now we have to do everything for the virus not to spread, to avoid having it here without control.”

“If we see the measures do not have sufficient effect, we will take more,” he added.

To date, there have been 96 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Czech Republic but no fatalities. Led by the populist Babiš, once dubbed the Czech Trump, the Czech Republic is the only European Union country to have banned entry of travellers from multiple high-risk countries on such a scale.

President Trump had announced his travel ban on Wednesday and criticised the EU for its response to the pandemic. He said: “The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots… As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.”

The European Union has criticised President Trump for his decision to prioritise the health of the American people, with a statement from the European Commission expressing that the bloc “disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation”.

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