Czech Health Minister photographed without a face mask outside Prague restaurant, faces calls to resign

Czech tabloid Blesk has captured images of Roman Prymula allegedly dining at a Vyšehrad restaurant despite the recent restrictions

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 23.10.2020 10:00 (updated on 23.10.2020)

Note: see bottom of article for an official response.

Incredibly, despite the surge in cases and drastic new restrictions this week, Czech Health Minister Roman Prymula was photographed last night by the tabloid Blesk without a mask, apparently patronizing a local restaurant after 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

Under new regulations imposed by the Czech government over the past weeks, restaurants are closed to dine-in traffic and wearing a face mask is required outdoors and in cars if traveling with other people not from your household.

Prymula himself was the person who announced many of these new measures to the Czech Republic.

The restaurant Prymula was photographed outside was identified as Rio's Vyšehrad, an upscale venue in Prague 2. According to Blesk, Prymula (a member of the Czech political party ANO) entered the restaurant at around 10:00 p.m.

According to restrictions currently in place, not only must restaurants be completely closed to dine-in guests, but they cannot even operate take-away windows after 8:00 p.m.

Prymula left the restaurant at around midnight, emerging without a face mask as he entered a limousine.

Jaroslav Faltýnek, ANO representative in the Czech Chamber of Deputies, apparently left the restaurant shortly after Prymula. Faltýnek was photographed talking outside the venue with the restaurant's owner, identified by Bleak as Raimund Špunda; neither wore a face mask.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, who himself tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in home quarantine, has already called for Prymula's resignation.

"The rules apply without exception to everyone," Hamáček wrote in a Facebook post.

"Minister Prymula and Mr. Faltýnek must explain what they were doing in the middle of a state of emergency in a restaurant that should be closed. In addition, ignoring the requirement to wear a face mask is an absolute mockery of the citizens of our republic, it is clearly an inexcusable failure."

Opposition parties have also called for Prymula's resignation.

In an informal poll on iDnes.cz, 85% of about 25,000 votes have expressed the opinion that Prymula should tender his resignation.

As the COVID-19 crisis in the Czech Republic reaches new peaks this week, controversy surrounding the country's health minister could not have come at a worse time.

Prymula has now addressed the Blesk photos in an interview with Respekt, saying that he does not think he has done much wrong but will resign if that is what the Czech public wants.

"I don't think I've done much wrong. The day before yesterday, I was at the ministry until 9:20 p.m., then I was invited to an urgent meeting, given that there were to be further restrictions announced the next day. I arrived at the meeting at half past nine, I don't know the exact time," Prymula stated in an explanation.

PRIVATE PROPERTIES

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 57m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 57m2

Heřmanova, Praha 7 - Holešovice

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, m2

Příběnická, Praha 3 - Žižkov

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 50m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 50m2

Vlašská, Praha 1 - Malá Strana

Apartment for rent, 4+1 - 3 bedrooms, 150m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 4+1 - 3 bedrooms, 150m2

Koperníkova, Praha 2 - Vinohrady

"I went to a meeting that was in a restaurant, in a restaurant lounge, and I did not go there to eat, but to meet."

"It's not true that I entered [the restaurant] without a face mask, I was in the car with a mask, and I came into the lounge where I was invited wearing a mask. And at about 11:30 or 11:20 p.m. I left the meeting, I did not have a face mask [while walking outside], then I put it back on in the car. If I broke a regulation, it was only that I didn't have a face mask at the time when I got in the car, when there was a member of the security team present." 

Still, Prymula conceded that he would resign if the public does not accept his explanation.

"If the public wishes, I will resign," he concluded.