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Czechs order face masks indoors as daily cases top 1,000

The Czech government has decided that all people must wear face masks inside public buildings from Thursday after a record spike in new coronavirus cases that topped 1,000 for the first time, international news wire Reuters reports.

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Health Minister Adam Vojtech announced the measure on September 9 after his ministry reported a one-day spike in COVID-19 infections of 1,164, while neighboring Germany, a country almost eight times larger in population, had 1,176.

While the Czech Republic was among the first European countries to adopt mask wearing at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, rules have largely been relaxed since then, Reuters notes.

Prague had already tightened measures after a spike in the number of cases in the capital, making the wearing of masks compulsory on public transport and ordering all bars to close by midnight.

The daily tally of new cases across the country of 10.7 million people has mostly exceeded 500 so far this month, well above a daily peak of 377 in March during the first wave of infections.

Czech authorities, which were quick to impose a strict lockdown in March to halt the spread of the virus, want to avoid costly restrictions again after the economy shrank by 11% in the April-June period on an annual basis, Reuters says.