The Czech Republic has closed its borders to travellers from 15 nations, including the UK, amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis declared a 30-day state of emergency, with foreign nationals travelling from Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Norway, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, China, South Korea, Iran and the UK all banned from entering the country.
Czech citizens have also been barred from entering the above nations.
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Although the ban is set to come into effect at 11pm GMT on Friday 13 March, according to Reuters, The Independent has already received reports of British travellers’ return flights from Prague back to Gatwick being cancelled.
One passenger told The Independent: “We’ve heard nothing from easyJet or the airport – we only knew this was happening because a friend of ours lives in the Czech Republic and saw a press conference saying we were banned. We didn’t want to risk getting stuck there, so we turned back on our way to Gatwick.
“We still can’t get hold of the airline or our travel insurance provider, so we don’t know where we stand.”
International public transport vehicles with more than nine seats will also be banned from crossing the Czech border.
Within the Czech Republic, special measures will be taken, including the closure of sport centres, spas and galleries; the cancellation of all public events of more than 30 people; and the implementation of 8pm curfews on restaurants
“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,” said the Prime Minister. “If we see the measures do not have sufficient effect, we will take more.”
Foreigners with permanent Czech residency and cross-border workers will be exempt from the ban.
At the time of writing, the Czech Republic has 96 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
It follows President Trump’s announcement that foreign nationals from the Schengen countries in Europe will be barred from entering the US for the next 30 days. The ban does not apply to legal permanent US residents, or to those travelling from the UK and Ireland.
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