Health minister: Restaurant interiors, indoor pools, and wellness to open on Monday

A ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court forced a speed up in the plans to relax pandemic rules.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 28.05.2021 11:10 (updated on 28.05.2021)

The Health Ministry will relax the conditions for the restriction of services including restaurants, indoor pools, saunas and more as of Monday, May 31, due to the decision from the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS). Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said plans to file a constitutional complaint to have the decision overturned, but that process will take time.

As of Monday, people can visit the interiors of restaurants, artificial swimming pools, saunas, wellness, and casinos. More people will be able to attend congresses.

Discotheques can also open, but dancing is not allowed. This is logical from the epidemiological viewpoint, Vojtěch said. "Dance means undoubtedly a much bigger contact between people, a lot of breathing, [leading to] the spread of the disease," he said.

For restaurants, there can be as many guests as the number of seats. At each table, only four guests can be seated. Besides, social distancing and wearing of face masks will be required when not eating.

For all services, capacity limits will apply, and a negative coronavirus tests, certificates on vaccination or recovery from Covid will be necessary. According to Vojtěch, restaurants will be the only facilities where it will be possible to prove yourself by self-test. In all others, only the test from the official sampling center will apply.

Culinary establishments could open outdoor gardens on May 17. Due to the second wave of the pandemic, the indoor and outdoor spaces were closed from Dec. 18, and only takeout or delivery was available.

Artificial swimming pools, saunas, salt caves, and wellness also will be able to open from Monday. In pools and swimming pools, there will be a limit of one person per 15 square meters of water and relaxation area in its immediate vicinity. In saunas, wellness or salt caves, the capacity may be filled to a maximum of 30 percent, Vojtěch said

According to Vojtěch, respiratory protection will be necessary in pools and swimming pools only at the entrance or in rest areas, not in water. When entering all the facilities, people will have to prove themselves with one of the three methods for showing they are not a risk for spreading Covid.

"The opinion of the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) is very restrictive when it comes to the possibilities and powers of the Health Ministry to close services across the board," Vojtech said.

Vojtěch said he is not completely happy with having to speed up the dismantling for legal reasons. "If the verdict of the Supreme Administrative Court had not forced us to do so, I would have suggested that the deadline of June 14 be met," he said, referring to the previously announced date to reopen restaurant interiors and indoor pools.

The court does not give space for blanket measures, he added. This is why the Health Ministry will file a constitutional complaint against the court's ruling.

Vojtěch noted that he considered the faster relaxation unfortunate both for epidemiological and legal reasons, but that he was forced to proceed so by the NSS verdict. He said when he assumed the post for the second time on Wednesday that as a lawyer by profession he minded the courts canceling the Health Ministry's anti-epidemic measures.

"We will be tackling this issue with my colleagues from the legislative section to avoid this in the future," Vojtěch said.

The court's interpretation is very strict, as not even the law on public health protection enables blanket measures, he added. A possible amendment to the pandemic law will be discussed. Currently, the only option to take blanket measures is the declaration of the state emergency, which is not optimal, Vojtěch pointed out.

The server Seznam Zprávy reported that ministry' officials knew the measures were unlawful when introducing them. However, Chief Public Health Officer Pavla Svrčinová dismissed this. Vojtěch said he had no such information since he had only been in office for three days.

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