Shopping rules may change again

The Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček (for ANO) intends to propose some changes to the current restrictions on shopping on Friday.

At Friday's meeting, the government will discuss transitioning from the fifth (highest) level of the anti-epidemic system (PES) to the fourth. This could happen on Monday, November 23. The rules for retailers would mostly stay the same - the only difference being the opening hours in relation to the overnight curfew which now starts at 9 pm. At level four, it would begin at 11 pm.

Havlíček expects the stores could then stay open for longer to better spread the number of customers throughout the day. The shops had to close at 8 pm from October 28 - from November 18, they can remain open until 9 pm.

Also starting November 18, there is a new limit on the number of customers allowed in stores - no more than one person per 15 square metres. This applies to levels five through three of the PES system. Havlíček wants to propose an increase to two people per this area - a limit which, according to the current table, would apply at level two.

Most grocery stores have decided to monitor the number of customers through numbered shopping carts - and do not allow people to shop without one. People with children in prams or with crutches encountered some problems with this new measure. According to Havlíček, these groups of people should be granted an exception.

Havlíček also wants to lift the Sunday shopping ban that is in place from the end of October. According to him, this measure made sense at the time, but as the government is now restricting the number of customers in the stores, it is appropriate to repeal it.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said that he could not assess Havlíček's proposal and that he wanted to hear the opinion of the Minister of Health Jan Blatný (for ANO). According to Blatný, limiting the number of people in shops should have been introduced earlier - in September. He does not expect this restriction to change for the fifth or fourth level of the PES system.