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Health

Anti-COVID measures tightened in Czech capital as cases rise

FILE PHOTO: A passenger covering her face walks through the train transfer tunnel at Prague's main railway station, as the Czech government bans all passengers without face protection from public transport to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Czech Republic, September 1, 2020. REUTERS/David W Cerny/File Photo

PRAGUE (Reuters) - People will be required to wear protective masks in shops and shopping centers in the Czech capital Prague under moves announced on Friday following a rise in new coronavirus cases.

Prague chief public health officer Zdenka Jagrova said that under the new restrictions, which come into effect on Sept. 9, bars and clubs in Prague will have to close by midnight.

Children must wear masks in common areas in schools from Sept. 14, she said.

The number of new coronavirus cases registered in the Czech Republic has hit new daily highs, with 680 new cases reported on Thursday.

Four government ministers -- including the health minister -- are isolating at home as a precautionary move.

The country of 10.7 million has fared better than many of its peers in the European Union after moving quickly in March to implement tough measures to curb new infections. As of Sept. 3, it had recorded a total 26,452 infections with 426 coronavirus-related deaths.

Many restrictions were lifted over the summer months, but officials ordered the return of face masks on public transport from Sept. 1 as cases rose.

Over the past two weeks, Czechs reported 50.5 cases per 100,000 people, more than its neighbors - Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an EU agency.

Reporting by Robert Muller, Editing by Michael Kahn and Timothy Heritage

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