The Czech Republic’s metered approach to allowing foreign visitors based on a country’s coronavirus risk factor could be a model for other governments to develop travel bubbles with nations beyond those that share a border.
The Czech Republic said on Monday it would open up foreign travel from June 15 after introducing a system to classify other countries according to their coronavirus risk.
Prague will place 19 European states, mostly central, eastern and southeastern nations, in the least-risky category under its new colour-coded system, while putting travel to and from Britain and Sweden in its riskiest category.
Czechs have undone most restrictions, with restaurants and hotels fully reopened on May 25. But tourism suffered as lockdown measures hit the economy, and only short-term businesss travellers from the European Union, people in transit or students were allowed into the country.
Czechs will be able to travel without restrictions to immediate neighbours Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia, along with Hungary, Romania or Bulgaria as part of its green tier. Other safe countries include Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Switzerland, the Baltic states, and Finland, Norway and Iceland.
Citizens from those countries will be allowed in without having to present a negative COVID-19 test, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Twitter.
The government placed France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, as well as Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium in its orange tier, allowing Czechs to travel to those countries without restrictions. However, those countries’ citizens will need to present a COVID-19 test.
Britain and Sweden were placed in the riskiest red category, meaning Czechs returning from trips there and citizens of those countries need to have a test.
The government also agreed to raise the number of people allowed at events to 500 from June 8, and 1,000 later.
The country reported less than 100 new coronavirus cases a day for most of May. It has reported 9,286 cases of the virus, with 6,642 recovering so far. The death toll has reached 321, a fraction of the rate in western Europe.
(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Giles Elgood)
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Photo credit: The Czech Republic's approach to opening its borders includes color-coding countries based on their coronavirus infection levels. MuderousPass / Wikimedia