Czech PM: Communication about face mask regulations has not been ideal

"The minister's role is very difficult," Andrej Babiš said when asked whether he trusts Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch.


Written by ČTK Published on 21.08.2020 08:35 (updated on 21.08.2020) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, Aug 20 (CTK) – The [Czech authorities’s] communication with the public about face masks has not been ideal, PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) said today, adding that it is experts who decide on the rules of mask wearing, but the cabinet takes into account public reactions and wants to prevent economic impacts.

Babiš said on Czech Television that he does not expect any further modifications of the rules, which changed three times in the past four days, before they come into force on September 1.

Asked whether Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (for ANO) enjoys his confidence, Babiš avoided answering.

Vojtěch announced the latest change in the rules of the obligatory face mask wearing after his talks with Babiš this afternoon.

He said face masks will not be compulsory at schools, in shops, restaurants and service facilities such as hairdressers, but will have to be worn in public transport, offices, medical and social care facilities and in polling stations during the early October regional and Senate elections. The epidemiological situation will be assessed in late September again, Vojtěch said.

The opposition has branded the ministry’s repeated changes of the rules as a circus and amateurish, while representatives of schools, shops and restaurants speak of confusion, chaos and panic mongering.

“It is not ideal, of course,” Babiš said about the way the issue has been communicated to the public. He ascribed the confused communication to Vojtěch.

“Of course, the minister’s role is very difficult,” he said when asked whether he trusts Vojtěch.

According to Babiš, Vojtech has found out that his three teams, the clinical, laboratory and epidemiological ones, differ on the rules of face masks wearing.

Babiš dismissed having the last say on the issue.

“Of course, we hear what people say,” he said, adding that the latest changes have been announced in time as 12 days are still left until the September 1 start of the new school year, when the face masks duty will take effect in the aforementioned selected premises.

Babiš said Czechia’s current situation differs from that in the spring, the number of patients with COVID-19 is lower and the country also fares well in terms of their mortality.

“I want our life to return to normalcy and do not want us to destroy the social, cultural and sports life [in the country],” he said, adding that Czechia cannot afford further economic impacts caused by the coronavirus.

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