March 18, 2020 / 12:55 PM / 23 days ago

Czech government orders people to wear masks in public against coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis arrives for a European Union summit meeting in Brussels, Belgium, February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech government ordered people to wear masks or use something else to cover their mouths and noses when in public from midnight Wednesday, tightening restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said after a cabinet meeting that the government had also decided that food and drug stores and pharmacies should grant access only to senior citizens over age 65 between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.

The European Union member country has reported 464 cases of coronavirus infections with no deaths so far. Like other EU countries, the Czech Republic has shut borders and virtually locked the nation down to try to contain coronavirus contagion.

The order to wear masks in public came with the nation of 10.7 million facing a shortage of protective supplies, forcing many Czechs to produce their own at home.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Michael Kahn and Mark Heinrich

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