The Czech government has announced new rules on face masks starting September 1, to coincide with the day Czech schools are set to reopen for the new academic year.

In the announcement on Monday, the country’s health ministry said the new rules — which make face masks mandatory in health and social care facilities, public transport, public offices, such as town halls, and polling stations — are directly related to the reopening of the schools.

The Czech Republic was one of the first in the world to make face masks compulsory when the pandemic started earlier this year. 

As the virus got under control, it started relaxing the rules and allowing people to go without face coverings in more places. However, the start of the new school year makes the return of face masks a prudent decision, the government said.

“Every year in the fall, there tends to be an increased incidence of respiratory infections with symptoms similar to SARS-CoV-2 as children return to schools and the number of children attending preschool facilities increases,” the government said in a statement. 

Authorities said it was desirable to reduce the number of these common infections during the coronavirus pandemic because of the danger of possible co-morbidities, co-infections and super-infections. The government added that face covering will work as a double protection against both the common respiratory infections and the novel coronavirus.

“It is now essential that people remember that the virus is still among us and will not just disappear. In order to avoid having to introduce national measures, we must all behave responsibly and remain prudent now. We ask citizens to follow the basic hygiene rules — hand washing, social distancing and face masks,” the country’s Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch said in a statement.

Face masks will now also be mandatory for all indoor events attended by over 100 people.

Those exempt from the new rules include children under two years old, people with intellectual or cognitive disabilities, some public transport workers, and members of wedding parties during ceremonies.

Masks will not be mandatory in schools. The government was originally planning to make face masks compulsory in some school facilities, however, after consultations with the educational sector and teachers’ associations, it decided it will only impose mandatory face masks in schools if the epidemiological situation deteriorates. Opposition parties criticized the U-turn as chaotic.

Source : CNN

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