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Czech government closes bars, schools in what PM calls ‘one shot’ to curb COVID-19 surge

PRAGUE (Reuters) – The Czech government ordered bars, restaurants and clubs closed from Wednesday and shifted schools to distance learning as it puts new measures in place to curb the fast spread of novel coronavirus cases.

The Czech Republic is experiencing the strongest surge in Europe when adjusted for population as the number of infections detected since the outbreak began has soared to nearly 120,000, from around 25,000 at the beginning of September.



a clock tower in front of a building: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Prague


© Reuters/DAVID W CERNY
The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Prague


Hospitals are starting to feel that strain as the number of patients have doubled since the start of October to over 2,000.

The government has been seeking to avoid repeating the strict lockdowns imposed in the spring, which sent the economy into a record contraction. The summer saw a relaxation of restrictions after the country came through the first wave of the pandemic with far fewer cases than western neighbours.

“We are aware that we have one shot, and one shot that has to be successful so we manage the growth of the epidemic this time as well,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said told a news conference.

Babis said the priority was for hospitals to be able to manage the sharp increase in infected patients.

From Wednesday, public gatherings would be limited to six people, alcohol consumption in public spaces would be banned and masks would be required at public transport stops. Takeaway orders will still be available until 8 p.m.

Schools, expect for pre-schools, would move to online lessons until Nov. 1 – a measure that companies and especially hospitals have worried would affect staffing. This extends distance learning that had already been in place for secondary schools.

The measures will be in place until the start of November, and the government said that while schools would definitely reopen on Nov. 2, other measures would be relaxed according to the epidemiological situation. The government had already tightened curbs to limit restaurant openings and widen the use of masks.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Jason Hovet; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)

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Illinois governor says federal government should help bars and restaurants

Bars and restaurants throughout Illinois continue to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the state-imposed restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of the virus.



J.B. Pritzker wearing a suit and tie standing in a parking lot


© Provided by Washington Examiner


The onset of colder weather is also looming, making it difficult for most businesses to serve patrons outdoors.

During a virtual void-19 briefing on Wednesday as he continues to be in isolation, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that bars and restaurants are a hotbed for the coronavirus.

“They are the ones that have been most impacted because the medical advice has been that we have to limit the capacity there more than in other places in order to limit the spread of the virus,” Pritzker said.

In an update last month, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 9 percent of outbreaks were attributed to bars and restaurants.

As Pritzker touted passing the 6 million mark for statewide COVID-19 tests, the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. Region 4, which is the Metro East area, and Region 1, which includes Rockford and Dixon, are still under additional restrictions because of high positivity rates. Only outdoor dining and curbside pickup are allowed at bars and restaurants in those regions.

Pritzker says Region 9, north of Chicago, and Region 5, in southern Illinois, are both seeing increased positivity rates. The governor said only one region has turned things around.

“Region 3, home to Springfield and Quincy, is the sole region to flip from an increasing positivity rate to a relatively stable rate in the same time period,” said Pritzker.

On Wednesday, IDPH announced 2,630 new coronavirus cases with 42 additional deaths. Statewide, IDPH has reported a total of 307,641 cases of COVID-19, including 8,878 deaths since the pandemic began.

Tags: States, News, Restaurants, Illinois

Original Author: Kevin Bessler, The Center Square

Original Location: Illinois governor says federal government should help bars and restaurants

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Coronavirus live news: Irish government ‘to reject new lockdown recommendation’; Paris bars to close | World news

An initiative from Germany’s Social Democrat labour minister to give people the right to work from home is facing opposition from chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and business groups, though a survey shows most workers like the idea.

The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted work flows in many companies in Europe’s largest economy, accelerating a trend to work partly from home and speeding up the digitisation of business organisation and communication.

But it has also created new problems such as working longer hours and pushing up stress levels, especially among parents juggling childcare and working from home.

Hubertus Heil from the co-governing, centre-left SPD told Deutschlandfunk radio on Monday that his draft law would give employees the right to work from home or somewhere else at least 24 days per year if the profession and work flows allow.

With the draft law, Heil wants to increase job satisfaction among employees and avoid home working automatically leading to longer working hours.

Employers must ensure that employees record their entire working time at home, or else face a fine of up to €30,000.

In addition, accidents that happen while working from home should be regarded as work accidents which means the employer’s insurance must fully cover the costs.

A survey conducted by several economic institutes showed that roughly two thirds of German employees welcome the proposal for such a legal right.

But a spokeswoman of economy minister Peter Altmaier from Merkel’s conservatives said during a regular news conference that there were many unanswered questions and that Altmaier remained sceptical of the idea.

“Above all, we need less bureaucracy and not new state guarantees for everything,” the spokeswoman cited Altmaier as saying.

Merkel’s spokesman said the draft law would now be discussed between the labour ministry and the chancellery, adding that there were still a lot of issues to be resolved.

The VDMA engineering association said there was no need for a legal right to work from home.

“It only raises hopes that cannot be fulfilled in every case,” VDMA managing director Thilo Brodtmann said.

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