Czech government extends state of emergency through April 11

Current restrictions will remain in place through at least that date, according to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 27.03.2021 09:18 (updated on 27.03.2021)

The Czech cabinet has approved an extension of the state of national emergency until April 11 after the Chamber of Deputies gave its consent, PM Andrej Babiš announced on Friday evening.

At an extraordinary meeting, the cabinet also decided that all current lockdown measures will remain in force until the end of the state of emergency on April 11, Babiš said.

Within the current restrictions, people are banned from leaving the district of their residence except for urgent reasons such as going to work. Schools have been closed, as have restaurants and most retail shops.

Compulsory on-site testing will continue in companies and public offices, the cabinet decided.

The cabinet also approved a plan to purchase one million Covid-19 test kits. The State Material Reserves Administration will obtain them by April 15 after a public procurement procedure, with the aim of enabling the self-testing of personnel in schools.

In reaction to Germany's decision to remove the Czech Republic from its list of the high-risk states, the Czech cabinet will lift the requirement to provide a negative Covid-19 test for international truckers going through the Czech Republic on their way to Germany.

The most-disputed measures, a ban on people's movement between districts and the night curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., will end with the state of emergency at the latest, Health Minister Jan Blatný told media.

During Easter, the first weekend in April, participants in divine services will be exempt from the curfew and able stay out until midnight on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Babiš said, adding that the capacity of seats in churches will be limited.

Immediately after the lower house session ended, members of the Czech cabinet met via videoconference and took a vote on the extension despite the absence of ministers who defended the plan in the Chamber of Deputies. 

The minority cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats originally asked MPs for an extension of the state of emergency until April 27, but the Chamber ultimately approved a shorter duration.

Without the extension, the state of emergency, to which most of the government's lockdown measures are linked, would have expired on March 28.

A state of emergency has been in force in the Czech Republic continuously since October 5. Further extended today, it will last at least 189 days. During the first coronavirus wave in Spring 2020, the state of emergency lasted 66 days.

Blatný told media that his ministry will present an updated PES coronavirus risk and alert system before Easter. He said the earliest possible date when some children may return to school is Monday, April 12.