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Czechs must wear face masks again in many places from September 1, expect tough autumn

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PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech government will make the wearing of face masks compulsory again from Sept. 1 on public transport and in many indoor public venues following a resurgence of coronavirus infections and ahead of what it expects to be a tough autumn.

The Czech Republic was among the first countries in Europe to order people to wear masks in most public places in March but had gradually lifted the requirement as infections fell in late spring. But infections have again started to trend higher.

“We consider this to be a preventative measure given that we are probably facing a complicated autumn, especially after Sept 1 when there will be high social interaction,” Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Monday, announcing the decision.

Schools are due to reopen on Sept 1 after the summer vacation.

The new rules will require people to wear face masks in shops, common areas of schools and in public buildings, though not in the workplace or in restaurants and bars.

The government has also cut the minimum quarantine requirement to 10 days since meeting an infected person from 14 days.

The Czech Republic, with a population of 10.7 million, has so far reported around 20,000 COVID-19 cases in total, but just 397 deaths, very low compared to many European countries.

It currently has 5,816 cases, the highest number ever, but the number of people requiring hospital treatment has continued to decline. Only 104 people with COVID-19 were in hospital as of Sunday.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Gareth Jones

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