Coronavirus update, Feb. 9, 2021: No new restrictions following Czech govt. meeting yesterday

Ministers working on plan to reopen schools, increased compensation for self-employed was proposed, and state of emergency could go on til Mar. 16.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 09.02.2021 09:47 (updated on 09.02.2021)

The minority government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's ANO and the Social Democrats approved its request for the extension of state of emergency due to COVID epidemic by another 30 days until March 16.

The COVID PES risk index remains at 71 on 0-100 scale today, still at the fourth degree out of five. The reproduction number R mildly dropping to 1.04 from Monday's 1.05, the Health Ministry's latest data show.

Out of the other three indicators influencing the PES risk index, the average number of the infected per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks has further slightly increased. It has been rising for about a week now, but the increase has not changed the risk index so far.

Health Minister Jan Blatný mentioned a restriction of people's movement between individual Czech regions as a possible new measure to curb the epidemic, but the cabinet did not approve it at its meeting.

The Chamber of Deputies will deal with the government request to extend the state of emergency on Thursday afternoon. If the Chamber of Deputies does not prolong the current state of emergency, it will end on Feb. 14.

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Previously, the Communists (KSČM), who keep the minority cabinet afloat, always supported its request in the Chamber of Deputies. However this time, the KSČM broader leadership recommended its MPs not to vote for a further extension of the state of emergency.

For the opposition Pirates and Mayors and Independents (STAN) to support the extension, they demand demand that the government open more schools, increase people’s motivation for testing and improve the system of compensation for those affected by the lockdown.

They also wants the cabinet to submit a special law or amend the current legislation to secure that the state of emergency would no longer be necessary for the validity of anti-coronavirus measures.

The Central Crisis Staff in cooperation with ministries will present a detailed plan of school reopening for the students in the final year of their secondary studies, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said.

These students should return to regular education in late February and early March.

The Central Crisis Staff will discuss COVID testing of students and their return to schools on Wednesday.

As of now, only kindergartens, special schools for disabled children and first two grades of elementary schools are open. Other pupils and students are educated remotely.

The Education Ministry suggests students administer themselves saliva PCR test for COVID-19 once in a week or two.

Subsequently, such testing would apply to all students from secondary schools with practical lessons. Antigen tests would be used in primary schools.

Hamáček and Health Minister Jan Blatný stressed a pilot testing would take place in selected schools before a nationwide school reopening.

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Deputy Prime Minister and Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček said the cabinet was also preparing a new system of compensation. Compensation for loss of income for the self-employed may be increased from CZK 500 to CZK 1,000 per person per day.

Companies that stayed open but had their revenues affected by restrictions have so far only been able to be compensated if their losses exceeded 80 percent of their previous revenue. This limit could be lowered to 50 percent.

Quarantined people may receive the bonus of up to CZK 370 a day under the bill approved by the government, Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová tweeted.

The legislation is yet to be passed by the parliament and signed by President Miloš Zeman into law.

Employees in quarantine receive 60 percent of their regulated average salary. The bonus is to make people enter the quarantine and the infected to announce their contacts for tracing.

The bonus is to be paid to the people in ordered quarantine for 10 days, along with the substitute for their salary. The total sum is not be over 90 percent of their average earnings. The same rules are to be valid for the people with part-time jobs. The bonus is not to be taxed.

Under the proposal, the bonus is not to be paid to those quarantined just upon return from abroad, if they were not there on business.  

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Feb. 9, 2021)

  • Active cases 95,479
  • New cases 7,663
  • Deaths 17,497
  • Currently hospitalized 5,855
  • PCR tests performed 4,797,828
  • Antigen tests performed 1,852,444
  • Reported vaccinations 365,712

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