Czech government to allow shops, restaurants to reopen from Dec. 3


A Christmas tree is illuminated as the traditional Christmas market has been cancelled at the Old Town Square in Prague due to COVID-19 concerns, Czech Republic, November 28, 2020. REUTERS/David W Cerny

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech government will allow restaurants and non-essential shops to reopen on Thursday, Dec. 3, as a wave of coronavirus infections eases, Health Mister Jan Blatny said on Sunday.

The country will move down one notch to level 3 on its 5-level coronavirus risk scale, which means all shops and restaurants can open but must limit customer numbers to allow for social distancing.

A night-time curfew will be lifted but pubs must close by 10 p.m.. Museums and galleries can open with limited capacity and individual indoor sports activities can resume.

Groups of up to 50 people may gather outside and 10 inside, from a maximum of 6 anywhere at the moment.

The government was aware that relaxing the restrictions may slow the improvement in case numbers, but plans to counter this with wider antigen testing, he said.

"The shorter the period stores are open before Christmas, the higher the concentration of people would be in shops," he told a news conference.

Deaths in the country of 10.7 million people reached 8,054 as of Saturday, and total cases 518,649. The daily number of new cases dropped below 5,000 in six out of the past seven days.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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