Update: Residents of Czech senior homes won't face hefty fines if they refuse a COVID-19 test

A new regulation requires all clients and employees of social facilities to be tested, but operators can’t force them to comply

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 05.11.2020 10:28 (updated on 06.11.2020)

 Update: Health Minister Jan Blatný (for ANO) said on Twitter that clients and patients of social service centers would not be fined for refusing tests, reversing earlier statements on the issue from other health officials.

“In no case will we allow repressive measures to be taken for not undergoing the COVID test. We will not fine clients of social services or clients of long-term care facilities. By testing, on the contrary, we offer a helping hand,” he said.

Original story:

Residents of Czech senior homes face hefty fines if they refuse a COVID-19 test

Residents and employees in homes for the elderly and similar social facilities who refuse a mandatory coronavirus test can face a fine up to 3 million CZK, the Czech Health Ministry has warned.

Senior homes and similar facilities are obliged to test all clients and employees for COVID-19 as of November 4. The first testing must be completed within a week and subsequent testing should take place every five days.

“If a client or employee refuses to take the test, he or she faces a fine. If a facility refuses to arrange for a test to be performed on its clients or employees, the facility faces a fine. The imposition of fines takes into account the seriousness of the breach of the obligation, the amount of 3 million CZK is the maximum amount,” Health Ministry spokesman Jan Brodský said, according to news server Novinky.cz

This fine is the same amount that pubs and restaurants face for being open despite the government restrictions based on the Public Health Protection Act.

Zdenka Jagrová, head of the Prague Hygiene Station, said that facilities can’t force someone to be tested, but the should keep a record of the refusal.

Jiří Horecký, president of the Association of Social Service Providers (APSS), said residential facilities should explain to clients and their relatives that if they are not examined, they risk sanctions from the locally responsible hygiene station.

“If the client continues to reject the test even after this announcement, the service providers should report it to the hygiene for further action,” Horecký told Novinky.cz

He added that he expects the fines to match the degree of wrongdoing, and not be so high that they would force a facility into financial difficulty. As for employees, he said that the obligation for testing is similar to having to wear protective equipment or go for a regular medical exam.

By the evening of November 4, COVID-19 infections had been confirmed in 4,266 clients in social facilities. There are about 200 new cases per day. The number of infected employees, on the other hand, is growing more slowly, by about 100 every day.