'Alternative' PES system – opposition govt. unveils its new proposal

According to the current PES system, even at the lowest level, a state of emergency is required, the opposition looks to change that.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 09.12.2020 14:32 (updated on 09.12.2020)

The expert team of the Czech opposition Civic Democrats (ODS), Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and TOP 09 has prepared an alternative PES pandemic five-level risk assessment system that does not require a state of emergency at the lower levels, TOP 09 MP Dominik Feri told a press conference today.

The "anti-COVID" team wants to present the alternative system to Health Minister Jan Blatny (ANO).

According to the current system created by the Health Ministry, even at the lowest PES level, a state of emergency is required.

The opposition has added a zero level to the system. For the first two levels, the state of emergency would not be necessary. Level three would require it only if at least two thirds of Czech regions fall to this level.

Such PES changes would enable regional public health offices and the ministry to apply local measures instead of nationwide restrictions, Feri said. Furthermore, they would not be bound to the crisis law, but by the law on the protection of public health. The proposal does not discriminate against retail shops as it avoids scenarios when shopping centers may be open, but small shops can't, Feri added. The opposition PES scheme also introduces transition levels applicable if the risk score oscillates between two levels.

For some time, the PES score had remained at 57. However, it rose to 62 on Sunday and since Monday, it has increased to 64.

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The fourth risk level begins at 61. If the PES index shows a higher score than the current level limits for three or more days in a row, the PES guidelines recommend the government consider shifting to a higher PES level.

For now, the ministry has not asked to raise the PES level yet, Blatny said on Monday. At the same time, it tightened some restrictions beyond the third PES level as of today.

Some key takeaway points of the proposal are:

  • Unify rules for wholesalers and retailers. Basic supplies will be allowed to be sold at all stages of the PES system. In retail and wholesale stores, there will be a uniform restriction on the number of people in the store area (1 person per 10 m2 of operating space, 2 m spacing between customers).
  • Enable all students in kindergartens and in the 1st and 2nd grades of elementary school to attend full-time at all levels of PES.
  • Close catering establishments only for the 4th and 5th PES levels.
  • Stage 0 would not require restrictions and in stages 1 to 2 only local restrictions would apply. In stage 3, the establishments will be closed only from 10 pm to 6 am.

The group also emphasized the need to put in place a vaccination plan that will allow society and economic activity to return to normal. The aim is to maintain the competitiveness of the Czech economy without endangering the functioning of the health care system.

The MPS said any vaccination plan must include:

  • How long will it take to receive the vaccine once it is approved by the European Medicines Agency and will the government be able to procure enough to begin vaccinations.
  • Look to the UK as an example which will vaccinate part of the population during December and January. Determine how long before the Czech Republic is able to achieve the same results.
  • It must answer the questions of what percentage of the population we want to vaccinate and what age groups are a priority.
  • Due to the spreading wave of hoaxes and myths about vaccination, it is also necessary to significantly intensify an information campaign on vaccination.
  • Continue to push for improvements in testing, tracing and, in particular, waiting times for results.