Breaking: Czech government declares new state of emergency, shops and services to remain closed

After meeting with regional governors, the Czech govt. has declared a new state of emergency which will take effect when the previous one ends.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 14.02.2021 17:41 (updated on 14.02.2021)

The Czech Republic's current state of emergency runs out tonight at midnight, but the government has declared a new state of emergency will take effect from then through the end of February. Despite previous reports, most current regulations will remain in effect.

The decision comes after the Czech Republic's regional governors called for a new state of emergency to be declared in the country for the next 14 days. The Czech Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, refused to prolong the government's previous state of emergency, casting doubt over the legality of creating a new one to take its place.

The regional governors had requested that students begin returning to schools from March 1 and that the government aid companies in blanket testing of their employees. The government has apparently agreed to these conditions, but further details are not yet available.

What changes as of midnight tonight: limitations on the working hours of public offices have been cancelled. Additionally, dispensing windows at libraries will be allowed, and medical services (in addition to business trips) will be a valid reason for hotels to accommodate guests.

All other restrictions, including the closure of shops and services, remain in effect.

"Nothing changes for businesses, shops, and services," Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček said during a press conference. The 9:00 p.m. night curfew, and restrictions on public gatherings, also remain in effect.

Among the Czech Republic's 13 regions and capital city, which acts as its own region, Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib was reportedly the lone holdout who did not vote in favor of requesting a new state of emergency.

"I wanted a new beginning, but I was outvoted," Hřib writes on Twitter.

"With a heavy heart, I have joined the request of the other governors for a state of emergency. Otherwise, Prague would remain alone and with different rules."

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Theorizing that Prague would see an influx of visitors from other regions if that capital city did not have similar restrictions in place, Hřib ultimately joined the other regional governors in their request for a new nationwide state of emergency.

Czech Health Minister Jan Blatný has stated that he will remain in contact with the regional governors in the upcoming weeks.

"We managed to find a consensus on how to proceed," Blatný says through the Health Ministry's Twitter handle.

"Thank you for the constructive and factual approach of all governors during the meeting."

The current state of emergency in the Czech Republic expires at midnight tonight. The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, refused to grant the government's request for an extension of the previous state of emergency on Thursday.

Miloš Vystrčil, Chairman of the Czech Senate, the upper house of parliament, has declared the establishment of a new state of emergency unconstitutional in an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš published today.

"The regional governors' request cannot 'overcome' the will of the Chamber of Deputies," Vystrčil writes.

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According to Vystrčil, Czech law grants the Chamber of Deputies the right to decide on a state of emergency longer than 30 days. The Chamber would therefore have the right to cancel a new state of emergency should the government declare one.

This is a developing story. We will update as more information becomes available.