Blatný's Christmas present to Czechs: Shops could open Nov. 30

The Czech Health Minister says stores could open for holiday shopping soon - but he does not think it is a good idea.

James Fassinger

Written by James Fassinger Published on 20.11.2020 10:21:00 (updated on 25.11.2020) Reading time: 2 minutes

Minister of Health Jan Blatný (ANO) told the Chamber of Deputies yesterday during a debate before a vote on the state of emergency extension that all stores could open on Monday, November 30. He added that he could not promise, but the lifting on shop closures could very likely take place before Christmas.

"This would depend on the PES number reaching level three. In the best case scenario, it is possible that this will happen on 30 November. I can't promise it, but I say it's a possibility, and it's very likely that it will happen in the run-up to Christmas," he said.

At level three, shops and services will be allowed to reopen. As with the current restriction, the number of customers in the store will be limited to one person per 15 square meters. Social distancing of two meters must also be observed.

In a seemingly contradictory statement, Blatný defended the existing restrictions during the debate. He said he would recommend that the PES number remain unchanged, at level four. "It would lower citizens' trust," he said. He also asserted that he does not want more stores to open. According to him, instead of going to one shop, people will go to ten, possibly spreading the infection further.

The government is expected to reduce the PES number to four today, with easing of restrictions taking effect from Monday, according to the ministry's previously published plan.

Blatný also used the opportunity yesterday during the debate to defend the extension of the state of emergency by threatening the country that without him, before Christmas, people would bring Covid from the shops instead of gifts, into their homes and spread it to their families. Stating simply that come January, the government would have to tighten restrictions again.

"In addition to gifts, we will also buy Covid, which we will bring home, and during the holidays we will pass it on in the family. In January, we will then have to tighten restrictions again," the minister threatened, in attempt to get the ministers to extend the state of emergency until 20 December.

According to Blatný, the general measures that are necessary to successfully fight the pandemic cannot apply without a state of emergency.

Blatný, as well as Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO), appealed to citizens to strictly adhere to the current restrictions, otherwise the situation may start to deteriorate again, at the expense of Christmas.

"Let us not succumb to the false notion that everything is behind us. We think that we have pre-Christmas shopping, Christmas and we want to celebrate these holidays with our families. Therefore, I still expect that citizens will follow the current restrictions and not organize any Christmas gatherings and similar events," said Babiš.

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