With COVID-19 cases appearing to be peaking and tailing-off, many countries have announced phased plans to ‘exit from lockdown’. As a result, businesses are cautiously keen to get back to work, and while it may not be possible to return to ‘normal’, a return will happen. Investors, Occupiers, Banks and Developers aim to continue with ongoing projects and look at new opportunities.
Kevin Turpin, Regional Director of Research, CEE, said: “The Czech Republic was one of the first countries to go into lockdown in Europe and to implement a wide range of protective health measures on its population. As a result, there have been a relatively low number of cases recorded, and it had also been one of the first countries to announce a phased exit plan and a return to more freedom of movement. From much of Europe, the Czech Republic currently has one of the most open approaches to its borders, provided that a number of health and safety measures are met, including the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test. There are currently a number of flight routes open, including Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and a number of CEE routes. During these reopening phases, it will be essential for the authorities to monitor any spikes in cases and adjust measures and source destinations as appropriate. However, if you physically want to visit and conduct business in the Czech Republic then it is currently possible following the requirements and guidelines, but we think it is reasonable to expect some disruptions as the world adjusts and returns to its ‘new normal’.”
A simplified guide to the current travel and visitor status around the CEE region looks at the following key criteria:
- Entry to Country Permitted? Key criteria based on whether a country’s borders are open or not. Potential visitors are often restricted based on their country of origin and in the case of CEE, this may be limited to EU countries in some cases or much tighter restrictions in terms of only allowing citizens or those holding residency permits (incl. family members).
- Quarantine and health requirements on entry? Although borders are slowly opening up, many countries are maintaining measures to limit the growth of new cases from international travellers by imposing quarantine/self-isolation of up to 2 weeks. This is the case for most of the CEE countries and in some markets, including the Czech Republic, there are other conditions where a valid (negative) test certificate is sufficient for presentation at the border control and although it may have just a few days of validity, this may be sufficient to carry out the necessary property viewings for example. Depending on your home country, you must also check the return conditions from the countries you intend to visit.
- Methods of entry: The most common entry method for many clients would be by plane but, routes in and out of the region vary between countries and remain fairly limited at present. For example, in Poland, all international flights and rail connections are suspended. This is a similar case for train and bus routes as they all try to solve the issues around capacity and health requirements.
- Purpose of visit required? Many markets still remain quite strict on who they allow in, but some have a process to support business continuity which requires both parties in a trade to provide some relatively simple admin on top of any other health requirements.
- Accommodation and getting around: The ability to have somewhere to sleep and the means to safely travel around the city or country by taxi or hire car is also important. Many of these services are operating with additional measures implemented to protect people, for example, plexiglass screens in taxis between the driver and passengers. Hotels are open in all CEE countries except the Czech Republic and Hungary when they are scheduled to open on May 25 and June 1 respectively.
- Access to properties (viewings): The ability to view property does vary but, in general, there are not that many official restrictions in place. In almost all cases, you would most likely be organizing a property viewing through the owner, their agent or, the property manager who should be able to advise you of any specific requirements. Be prepared that some occupiers may refuse any non-employees to visit their space in order to limit the chances of transmission. In addition, be prepared to follow local measures implemented in regard to health and hygiene, such as temperature checks, disinfection and the wearing of facemasks and gloves. These may often go over and above any official requirements but, will be important to provide the level of confidence required for users of the property to return to some level of normality.
The following statistics and summaries are based on publicly available information at the date of update (11-18th May) and are subject to regular change.