According to the Czech Republic’s Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, all Italian citizens should be banned from travelling to the rest of Europe to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“Italy should ban all its citizens from travelling to Europe because we are not able to order such a thing within Schengen,” Babis said.
Babis recognizes that this approach could be problematic, if not impossible, to achieve without altering the actual verbiage of the Schengen Agreement, however. Because of the probable impracticality of a full-on travel ban with the Schengen Area, he instead suggested that travel should be strongly discouraged.
“European countries cannot ban the entry of Italian citizens within the Schengen area. The only possible way is to have the Italian prime minister call on his fellow citizens to refrain from travelling to other countries of the European Union. We do not know whether the coronavirus infection will be limited to those 16 million people who are now under quarantine [in northern Italy],” Babiš said.
Prime Minister Babiš also noted that the roughly 16,000 Czech citizens in Italy should come back to the Czech Republic immediately. Returning nationals will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine, and any person who does not comply with the rules set in place for public health will have to pay a $130,000 fine.
The Czech Republic is officially under quarantine from 16 March until 24 March 2020. This means that people will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy food, medicine, commute to work, go to hospitals and banks, or take trips related to the care of the young and elderly. Nearly all international travel has also been banned.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic is now 253 cases, with 5,000 people already having been quarantined. 74.5% of those who tested positive for the virus contracted it in Italy.
So far, much of northern Italy is still on lockdown. Movement has been limited to urgent medical or professional need. The only shops that are still open are those that are categorically grocery stores or pharmacies. Companies have been required to shut down non-essential departments, and many venues that see high traffic like theaters, schools, museums, and hairdressers are now temporarily closed. Worldwide, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is 169,362. The worldwide death toll has reached 6,501 people, and 76,618 people have recovered successfully so far.