Police confirm: Blatny's hysteria over restriction violations unfounded

The Czech Health Minister claimed 'widespread violations' by bars and restaurants over the weekend, but police accounts say otherwise.

James Fassinger

Written by James Fassinger
Published on 07.12.2020 15:10 (updated on 07.12.2020)

Government politicians such as Health Minister Jan Blatny (ANO) expressed concerns about how many Czechs made their way to restaurants and pubs at the weekend and the excessive number of people that flooded into the streets of the city.

However, Prague police did not record any major offenses at the weekend, including any violations by restaurants or bars. In only a few cases did people not have a mask, head of the press department of the Prague police Eva Kropáčová said.

"Of course, we expected the center of Prague to be filled with people after the lifting of restrictions. However, most people were just walking through the squares, both Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square," Kropáčová told iDNES.

"We did not encounter any violations and did not see any restaurants open after the 10 p.m. deadline," she pointed out.

According to Kropáčová, "These are really a small number of cases where we dealt with individual violations, and most of the time it was for not wearing masks in places where they are required." She added that the police usually carry out about a thousand compliance inspections every weekend.

However, the influx of people into the streets has seemed to upset some politicians. Minister of Health Jan Blatný expressed concern and spoke about 'mass irresponsibility'. "The St. Nicholas celebrations were successful and everyone had a good time, but I'm scared. Hundreds to thousands of people at one time, in one place. I will ask the mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib and the management of the Prague police how they evaluated the situation," he wrote on Twitter.

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In Prague, St. Nicholas night was relatively calm, police dealt with simple mask violations, noise in front of bars and from apartments but, as police president Jan Švejdar on Saturday confirmed, if some restaurants and clubs were open after the 10 p.m. deadline for closing, then it was in Blatný's home district of Brno or in Ostrava.

Although Švejdar confirmed that there were only a few violations outside of Prague, Blatný took to Twitter posting, "Despite the warnings, the establishments did not close and were often open until the morning. I will demand high fines in the order of millions of crowns."

"Paramedics, police officers, social workers, teachers, small businesses, but also others. They all help and try. But precisely because of the irresponsibility of some of us, we are still not able to improve the situation," added Blatný.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš also joined Blatný's concerns in the Sunday show Čau lidi. He accused Prague mayor Zdeněk Hřib of violating the rules in Prague.

"The measure says that there can be no sale of alcohol and snacks on the markets. Maybe someone might ask how it's possible to have a party here, where everyone gets drunk – maybe the mayor might finally be interested in that. The mayor is now doing some theater with the devil, and he is protesting, probably because he has a lot of money in his account, and he is making excuses for his security department," said Babiš.

The mayor defended the people of Prague on Twitter. "The Prime Minister should finally stop making them scapegoats for his PR," he wrote. He added that the people of Prague only went for a walk through Prague in the nice weather.

After a phone call with the Minister of Health, the mayor said that he would send the Ministry of Health suggestions from his experience to amend the legislation in order to more effectively enforce emergency measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Minister of Transport and Industry Karel Havlíček pointed out that the Czech Republic is hovering between level 3 and 4 of the PES risk assessment. "And we are only a step away from level 4," he warned. "Don't make fun of it. By not following the restrictions, we do not punish the government or epidemiologists, but ourselves and other entrepreneurs," he said.

On Monday, an extension of the state of emergency for another 30 days is likely to pass. The last extension of the state of emergency, which allows the state to issue regulations against the spread of coronavirus, will expire on 12 December.

The cabinet will also assess the increase in the PES score, which rose from 57 to 64 points on Sunday after thirteen days.

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