Coronavirus update, Feb. 12, 2021: State of emergency in the Czech Republic to end on Sunday

What this means for the relaxing of measures and is yet to be decided; a govt. meeting will be held Friday afternoon.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 12.02.2021 08:51 (updated on 12.02.2021)

Following seven hours of negotiations, the Czech govt. failed to pass its request to extend the state of emergency to Mar. 16.  As of Monday, Feb. 15, the state of emergency will no longer be in effect. This was the govt.'s sixth request for an extension.

It's likely that some measures could now be introduced at the regional level within the law on public health protection, however, the govt. warned prior to the decision that failure to secure an extension could mean a relaxing of the restrictions as of Monday.

Health Ministery Jan Blatný said that shops, services, museums, galleries, exhibitions, possibly even gyms, and swimming pools could open on Monday without a state of emergency and that gatherings of people would no longer be restricted.

As a result, the inpatient care control room will collapse because it will not transport patients between individual hospitals. No children will probably go to school either, because the situation will not allow it. The surrounding countries will start to fear us and close the borders," Blatný warned.

According to the health minister in two weeks the country could see a restriction on movement similar to what is happening in the heavily COVID-hit Karlovy Vary and Hradec Králové regions. Blatný urged people to continue observing anti-epidemic measures.

Restarting schools, support for small businesses main items of debate

During Thursday evening's session, the extension request was backed by 48 ANO and CSSD deputies, while the entire opposition rejected the extension. At least 54 votes were necessary for the extension to be approved.

The Civic Democrats (ODS), Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL), and TOP 09 pushed through their appeal for a program to save small and medium-sized businesses. The lower house also asked the government to immediately address the Education Ministry's proposal to progressively renew regular education with COVID testing for students and the priority vaccination of teachers.

At the request of the Communists (KSČM), the lower house asked Blatný to set general rules for public health offices in accordance with the law on public health protection. Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (ANO) has been tasked with negotiating the deployment of soldiers to help in hospitals and social care facilities.

Opposition: 'Reasonable well-targeted measures can be declared via public-health protection law'

Following last night's decision, Petr Fiala, chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS), said the opposition did not find the government solutions reasonable. "The government knows only one thing: 'Prolong the state of emergency.' In our opinion, an automatic extension of the state of emergency is no solution," he said.

"I deeply regret and deem dishonest that the government pins the blame for its fatal failure on the opposition, on anybody, without realising its own responsibility," Fiala said.

He said the opposition is willing to negotiate a further strategy to tackle the COVID pandemic that includes improving the system of the COVID-19 vaccination system, addressing compensations for businesses and freelancers, crisis legislation, and the return of some students to school.

Head of the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) Marian Jurečka said most of the reasonable and well-targeted measures can be declared via the law on public health protection. It is a chance to revisit the measures, think about them, and act reasonably, he added.

Minister of the Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (ČSSD) tweeted the result of yesterday's decision would lead to chaos and mistrust in politics.

Negotiations to continue Friday

Czech regional governors have invited the govt. to hold a joint meeting to address a further anti-COVID strategy and steps for when the state of emergency expires.

The governors of the Liberec, Pardubice, Karlovy Vary, Central Bohemia, and Olomouc regions and the mayor of Prague have already stated that they will declare a state of danger in their regions if the state of emergency is not extended.

The government should meet at 12:00 on Friday.

COVID risk index remains unchanged today

The COVID-19 risk index of the PES anti-epidemic system stays at 71 points for the sixth day, the average number of the infected in the last 14 days keeps increasing, but the reproduction number R stays at 1.04, according to the latest data released by the Health Ministry this morning. 8,916 new cases were reported in the Czech Republic yesterday and the death toll is at 17,902.