The coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. As of 8 July, 2020 the total number of cases worldwide is 10,302,867 as per the John Hopkins University tracker. It is also believed that half of these cases are from Europe and the USA. While this is the situation, on 1 July, 2020, the citizens of the Czech Republic attended a ‘farewell party’ organised for coronavirus. The citizens came together and celebrated on the Charles Bridge in Prague. The highlight was a 500-metre-long table that was set up for citizens bringing in food and drinks from their homes. They were encouraged to share with others. All rules of social distancing were violated, and the celebrations escalated to local musicians and artists performing on the streets for the gathering crowds.

Also read: Here’s what “re-opening” looks like around the world

Too Happy Too Soon

New Zealand had a similar atmosphere on 8 June, 2020. The country had lifted all of its coronavirus restrictions. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, said that the country had reported no new coronavirus positive cases for more than two weeks. Since the virus arrived late February, the number of positive coronavirus cases recorded was 1,154, and there were 22 deaths. Arden said that the fight against the virus was not over yet, while the citizens took to streets and indulged in outdoor activities like shopping, dining, and hugging each other. Until then, the country had remained in strict lockdown, but now businesses had lifted social distancing measures. From public transport to pubs, the country returned to almost normalcy. But the current situation is such that the country has 22 active coronavirus cases and around 6,000 people are in 28 isolation facilities. The Czech Republic may rejoice now, but without stringent regulations, their fate might turn out to be similar to that of New Zealand’s.

A Wise Start On Beating The Pandemic

The Czech Republic was one of the first few countries in Europe to implement lockdown and close its borders to curb the spread of the virus. The country declared a lockdown on 16 March 2020, and its government made wearing masks mandatory from mid-March. With a population of 10.7 million people, there was bound to be a shortage of masks, so the citizens made the masks themselves. Czech Republic’s strict social distancing restrictions and mass testing have led to some control of the pandemic in their nation. The country recorded a total of 11,298 positive cases and 346 deaths. On 22 June, 2020, the Government relaxed restrictions on businesses and granted permission for events to be held and pubs to be open with restrictions on timings. Public gatherings of up to 1,000 people were allowed. In a week, the daily number of positive cases recorded jumped to 260. This was the highest since 8 April, 2020, while the country was actively dealing with the problem. According to Reuters, half of these cases were from the Karvina region, and the Health Minister Adam Vojtech said that they were conducting testing in large numbers and that the problem was concentrated in local hotbeds. Despite this, the Czech Republic has had fewer restrictions nationwide, but contained crowds in Karvina, practicing local lockdowns and testing.

We Must Err On The Side Of Caution

Till now, the country seems to have avoided the wrath of the virus, unlike the USA with positive cases up to 3 million. Currently, public places like zoos, museums, and swimming pools are open without visitor restrictions in the Czech Republic. While not having new cases is a valid enough reason for celebration, the Czech Republic has to learn from New Zealand’s mistakes before it gets too late. According to the BBC, the country is now opening its borders, but only for European Union’s (EU) citizens. However, there will be no entry if EU citizens are unable to provide a certificate showing negative results for a coronavirus test that needs to have been conducted within four days before entry. While New Zealand had restrictions on their borders too, it failed in testing people returning to the country. Along with that, the careless conditions of the hotels in which the government quarantined the travellers resulted in the rise of cases. Also, the country allowed travellers to be released on compassionate grounds—like visiting a dying patient or attending a funeral. Lack of tests conducted in quarantined hotels resulted in the positive patients visiting other people, attending parties, and attending parties, the Guardian reported.

Time To Tighten The Grip

The present scenario in New Zealand is the one where compassionate exemptions have been revoked and mandatory tests are conducted in the quarantined hotel. While the Czech Republic implemented a strict lockdown right at the start of the pandemic, the country has become lenient with its rules now. Despite the spike in the cases a few weeks before the ‘farewell party’, the citizens have continued to celebrate, showing a possibly fatal disregard for the situation. Understandably, the citizens are tired of staying indoors; but it is the need of the hour. Just 24 days of being a corona free country, New Zealand has a rise in positive cases and potential active cases. The Czech Republic has double the population of New Zealand, and if they are lax in their screening process of travellers from the EU, it might lead to a restart of the pandemic in higher numbers than before. Further, according to a report published by The Telegraph, 70 per cent of the population must get the vaccine to halt the spread of the pandemic. But in a recent research done by the Czech University of Life Sciences, it was found that only 49 per cent of the citizens were ready to take a vaccine. Finding a vaccine is a while away. But even if effective vaccines were accessible, there aren’t enough people ready to accept the vaccine. This damages the resistance we need to develop within the population against the virus. The Czech Republic’s neighbouring country, Hungary, might ease restrictions starting next month. The Czech Republic should be more alert and strict. 

A Bright Future, Maybe?

In conditions like this, having a celebration where thousands of people share food, drinks and laughter, might not be the smartest thing to do while there is a ongoing pandemic All said, the pictures of people out on the streets enjoying themselves brings out a positive and optimistic thought that the world might still be able to go back to pre-pandemic normalcy.

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