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Czechs extend restrictions on restaurants, movement until April 11

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PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech government said on Monday it would order most shops and restaurants to stay closed and restrict people’s movement until April 11, extending by 10 days measures it has put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The measures, in place since March 14 and previously set to end on April 1, still allow grocery stores, pharmacies, drugstores, gas stations and some other places to operate, while travelling to work or to visit family is also permitted.

The Czech Republic has been relatively quick in Europe to enforce drastic measures to limit the spread of the virus.

It reported its first infections on March 1 and as of Monday evening it had recorded 2,942 cases and 23 deaths.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the restrictions would now be in place for the same duration as the state of emergency, a legal framework currently due to expire on April 12, although both would need to be continued to tackle the disease.

“We have the state of emergency until April 12. We will ask parliament on April 7 to extend it,” he said, adding that store closures and restrictions on movement would then be prolonged as well, although there may be room for some easing.

“We hope that the epidemic will develop in such a way that after Easter, it will be possible to loosen some measures.”

The state will now also begin requiring Czechs and foreigners arriving in the country to observe a 14-day period of quarantine regardless of where they have entered from, the Interior Ministry said.

The Czech Republic has already also shut borders to most international travel and ordered people moving around cities and towns to wear masks or face fines.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Michael Kahn, Jonathan Oatis and Hugh Lawson