The spread of Covid-19 has been contained in the Czech Republic and the government will continue to cautiously open up the economy, the health minister, Adam Vojtěch, said on Thursday.
The country has seen the number of new cases drop below 100 for the past eight consecutive days, and the number of active cases has also been on the decline.
The ministry said the reproduction rate of the virus had dropped to 0.7, which means every newly infected person passes the infection to fewer than one other person.
There were 7,581 cases in the country as of Thursday morning, and 227 deaths.
Positive developments have prompted the government to start reopening shops and services as well as non-urgent medical care, as doctors fear the impact of neglect in standard care.
Vojtěch told a press conference:
So far we do not see a negative trend resulting from previous relaxations.
We will proceed with caution, gradually in the upcoming waves, and I believe we are on a good path.
The country has also seen a decline in the number of hospitalised patients, to 348 on Wednesday from a peak of 446 on 9 April.
The government, under pressure from businesses and the general population, has lifted most limits on movement and sped up reopening shops and services.
Stores of up to 2,500 square metres reopened on Monday.
The head of the health ministry’s epidemiological advisory team, Rastislav Mad’ar, has cautioned about the faster relaxations, saying they may be risky.
Schools are not to reopen fully until September, and the government is also keeping in place an obligation to wear face masks in public and a ban on large public gatherings.
The government is hoping a system of tracing and testing contacts of infected people, newly boosted by an army of testers, mobile apps and location data from phones and payment card transactions, will be enough to contain any flare-ups without the need to reintroduce blanket restrictions.