No Christmas gatherings or shopping for gifts, so say Czech PM and Health Minister

According to B&B (Babiš and Blatný), people should not have Christmas visits, or shop for gifts, to prevent further spread of Covid-19.

James Fassinger

Written by James Fassinger
Published on 19.11.2020 11:19 (updated on 19.11.2020)

With Christmas fast approaching, many are wondering what the government's restrictions will mean for one of the biggest holidays of the year. It seems every hour the news changes with regard to what citizens will be – or won't be – allowed to do. Conflicting reports and statements from Czech officials are abound, and by all accounts will continue.

This morning, the Czech government has asked the Chamber of Deputies to extend the state of emergency in order to achieve a coronavirus 'combat breakthrough', PM Andrej Babis (ANO) told the Chamber ahead of its vote today. The minority coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) wants the lower house to accept the recommendation to continue the of the state of emergency for another month until December 20.

According to remarks by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) yesterday, 'final victory' over the virus is still a long way off. He warned against people having Christmas gatherings where, he said, Covid-19 could spread further.

Today, he said the return to normal life is impossible for now, since the infection may burst out again and burden the healthcare system.

The latest data show an improvement in the epidemiological situation, which is a result of the government-imposed coronavirus measures, Babiš said, alluding to the restriction of people's movement, the closure of stores and services and the introduction of distance learning at schools.

"The number of patients in the ICU is still over a thousand," said Health Minister Jan Blatný yesterday at a government meeting, but added that he would accept the decision of the Chamber of Deputies with regard to lifting the state of emergency. He explained to deputies that, "Even though the pandemic shows signs of retreat, the number of patients in intensive care units is still over a thousand people and the number of positive tests still exceeds twenty percent, which indicates a continuing spread of the virus." Although the minister cited a different figure at that time, as of today, there are less than 1,000 people in hospital intensive care units, the figure now stands at 961.

Minister of Health Jan Blatný  at a press conference No. 16. (photo: vlada.cz)
"If we want to apply restrictions broadly, a state of emergency is a way to achieve this," said Blatný after a government meeting. (photo: vlada.cz)

Blatný argues that extending the state of emergency is necessary before Christmas. If it ends before then, the pandemic will worsen in January, "I can very well imagine that there will be a significant increase in contacts and a rapid spread through the population. Then Christmas will come, we will all be home, we will all spread it to our families, and at the beginning of January we will return right back to PES level five," he told members of the health committee on Thursday.

According to him, it is necessary to prolong the state of emergency, and continue current preventive measures against the spread of infection. "If we want to apply restrictions broadly, a state of emergency is a way to achieve this," said Blatný after the meeting, at which he approved the request for an extension of the state of emergency.

So far, the state of emergency has been approved until November 20, and has been in force since October 5.

The Chamber of Deputies voted for an extension of the state of emergency once before in late October. At that time the cabinet also asked for a 30-day extension, but the opposition blocked it, instead pushing through a more limited 17-day continuation.

Stay with Expats.cz for the latest outcome on the state of emergency vote due later today.