Czech Republic institutes martial law to stop coronavirus by limiting travel

In the Czech Republic, coronavirus has inspired martial law.

Starting Monday, Czechs will face travel limitations within their own borders enforced by some 30,000 police and soldiers, The Associated Press reported.

Draconian travel checkpoints

Some 500 checkpoints are being set up within the nation’s borders to prevent people from traveling outside of their counties for any reason not declared “essential” by the state, such as work and caring for relatives.

Also, under the new rules, so-called “non-essential” businesses, as well as nursery schools and schools for children with disabilities, will close. Exercise should be done only in one’s municipality, and testing for workers at companies with more than 250 employees will be mandatory.

The restrictions were declared Monday after the government announced a state of emergency, Politico reported. Authorities in the former Soviet satellite state say that they are needed to fight a stubborn outbreak of COVID-19, which has killed more than 20,000 since arriving last March.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis is asking citizens to comply for three weeks to prevent the collapse of their health system.

“We have to do it to prevent a total collapse of our hospitals,” Babis said. “If we don’t do it, the whole world will watch Bergamo in the Czech Republic.”

Europe remains shuttered

As severe as the new restrictions are, Babis and his ministers have pushed back on calls to shut down industry from health authorities who say he must go further.

“I consider the most important measures those that haven’t been applied,” biochemist Jan Trnka told Czech public radio. “That is to limit contacts at work, especially in the industry.”

Europe remains in varying levels of lockdown, as governments begin deploying the vaccine. The continent has seen sizable anti-lockdown protests that have been met with force.

The coronavirus has proven an intensely political phenomenon, as people all over the world this past year have seen their civil liberties severely restricted, while countless businesses have suffered. Lockdowns have been defended as scientific, but criticized as tyrannical and guided more often by politics.

In the United States, there is cause for optimism as the infection rate continues to drop sharply. The state of Texas announced that it is opening “100%” on Tuesday.

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