The Czech Republic has banned gatherings of more than six people and ordered bars, restaurants and clubs to close until further notice, as coronavirus infection rates rise to the highest in the European Union.
The new regulations, announced by Health Minister Roman Prymula on Monday evening, will come into effect on Wednesday.
Public consumption of alcohol will also be banned and schools must close for almost three weeks, until the beginning of November, and switch to distance learning.
Mask-wearing will be obligatory not just indoors but also at public transport stops. Businesses will, however, remain open.
“We only have one try, which has to be successful, to get this pandemic under control as a nation,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.
The country has recorded 493.1 infections per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the highest infection rate in the EU.
On Monday the number of Covid-19-related deaths also crossed the 1,000-mark for the first time, with the Health Ministry reporting that 1,045 people had died from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Czech Republic has a population of almost 10.7 million.