Czech Republic relaxes COVID attendance restrictions, EPT Prague and WSOPE to benefit

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: February 18, 2022 10:02 PST

An ongoing relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions across the Czech Republic has major poker tournaments planned in the country anticipating larger turnouts and playing conditions closer to pre-pandemic norms. Among them are next month's PokerStars-sponsored European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague stop, one of the largest events held in the country.

Already this month, Czech authorities have issued three separate modifications to the country's rules governing large gatherings, which affect festivals such as EPT Prague and, later this year, the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) in Rozvadov.

The PokerStars Blog recently offered an update on the recent changes in effect for its upcoming C zech Republic events. Three separate updates have been noted by PokerStars over the past 10 days. According to PokerStars, these are the current conditions of attendance, with the dates representing when they were announced by Czech Republic officials. These updates specifically address large gatherings such as EPT Prague:

February 10, 2022

Following a Supreme Administrative Court verdict, the government decided to eliminate the need to prove Vaccination/Recovery certificates or tests for almost all domestic purposes. Certificates are still needed for International Travel in many cases. The change took effect on February 10.

Culture: People no longer must show vaccination certificates or proof of recovery to enter cultural, sports, or other events. The limits for the number of participants remain in effect: 1,000.

Hospitality: People no longer must show vaccination certificates or proof of recovery to enter restaurants, pubs, clubs, or casinos, or stay at hotels or other accommodation facilities. Table limits and distancing still apply.

Hand sanitiser is provided in public buildings. People are required to use it.

Social distancing (keeping 1.5m apart) is recommended but not mandatory.

Respirators face masks (e.g. FFP2, KN95): People are still obliged to wear respirators in indoor spaces.

February 15, 2022

The validity of certificates for the two-dose Covid-19 vaccine or its single-jab equivalent is reduced to nine months for adults. To extend the validity, people will need to get a booster shot.

Health Minister Vlastimil Valek said starting February 19, up to 5,000 people will be allowed to attend concerts, sports competitions, and other events where the visitors are seated, up from the current 1,000. For other gatherings, the limit will increase from 100 to 500.

February 19, 2022

The number of people who can attend events will increase, but respirators must still be worn indoors.

Seated participants: Can be up to 50 percent of the capacity of the venue for cultural and sports events, conventions, lectures, and similar events.

Standing participants: Events where people are not seated can have up to 500 people. The previous limit was 100.

(Source: PokerStars Blog)

Other prior conditions remain in place

Excepting the changes to the attendance caps, most other pandemic-related conditions remain as they have been in previous months. For example, the wearing of masks inside venues hosting large gatherings will remain mandatory.

PokerStars also advises all players and staffers who will travel from outside the Czech Republic to be aware of the country's ongoing conditions for entry. Those conditions include filling out a passenger locator form for every person entering the country, regardless of age or vaccination status.

As for vaccination status, prior rules still apply. The Czech Republic has a different set of rules for arrivals from other European Union countries than for the rest of the world (where the rules are somewhat more restrictive). The Czech Republic has posted its conditions for entry here. Visitors must provide at least one of the following:

  • a valid digital EU COVID certificate (valid 14-270 days after vaccination); or
  • confirmation of a recent prior COVID-19 infection (valid 11-180 days after diagnosis); or
  • either (a) arrivals from EU countries to have a confirmation of negative PCR test or negative rapid antigen (RAT) test before arrival, or (b) arrivals from outside the EU: to have a confirmation of negative PCR test before arrival and to undergo PCR test after arrival between the fifth and seventh day of stay. (The PCR test is valid up to 72 hours before the trip, the RAT up to 24 hours.)

King's Resort issues possibly-misleading Tweet about removal of restrictions

King's Resort in Rozvadov, the hosting venue of the WSOPE each fall, issued a Tweet which reflects part of the removal of the attendance restrictions. However, the Tweet could be misinterpreted by international players mistaking the Tweet's context for the larger set of rules governing entry into the Czech Republic in general:

It's true that the COVID-19 restrictions have been dropped regarding physical entry to the venue. However, the relaxed attendance cap remains in place, and of course, the international restrictions as detailed above are expected to remain in force for some time.

The 2022 World Series of Poker Europe also has yet to have its dates officially announced. WSOP officials are expected to announce those dates near the end of February, though their primary focus remains trying to get the full schedule issued for this summer's 2022 WSOP in Las Vegas. That schedule's release, which normally occurs around New Year's Day, was delayed due to two separate factors -- the delayed 2021 WSOP (which reduced the lead time for the 2022 series), and the move for 2022 from the Rio to its new home near the Vegas Strip at the Horseshoe and Paris casinos.

Featured image source: Ввласенко, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons