Cabinet Extends State of Emergency until 12 December 2020. Some Restrictions to Be Eased Starting on Monday.

Office of the Government

The state of emergency in the Czech Republic will for now be extended until 12 December 2020. Acting based on prior approval given by the Chamber of Deputies, Andrej Babiš’s Cabinet imposed the extension during an extraordinary session held on Friday 20 November 2020. At the same time, several changes regarding formerly adopted emergency measures will take effect on Monday 23 November 2020, partially easing some of the imposed restrictions.

All of the current emergency measures, which the Cabinet adopted as part of the declaration of a state of emergency in effect until 20 November 2020, will remain in force during an additional three weeks under the extension announced by the Cabinet. Starting on Monday, however, several of the restrictions will be eased, such as the current curfew and ban on retail sales and the delivery of services. Likewise, schools will be successively reopened.

The most important changes to take place starting on 23 November 2020 include shortening the curfew, which currently begins at 9:00 p.m., to the time from 11:00 p.m. to 4:59 a.m. on the next day. A new exemption from the curfew will include return to a person’s place or residence. In addition, up to 20 persons will be allowed to attend weddings, funerals, religious services, and registered partnership ceremonies. The limit for gatherings of unrelated persons will increase from two to six. Religious services will be permitted for up to 20 people, subject to compliance with prescribed sanitary measures.

Starting on Monday, changes in the retail and services sectors will allow the outdoor sale of Christmas trees, decorations, and the traditional Czech carp. Stores will be allowed to stay open until 11:00 p.m. At the request of gamekeepers aimed at preventing the spread of African swine fever, gun and ammunition shops will be allowed to open as well. In addition, the new measures will allow holding concerts and other music, theater, film, and other art performances, including circus and variety shows, but only in the absence of spectators. Likewise, professional training for firefighters and rescue personnel from the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic will be permitted as well as tests the law mandates for certain activities, such as driving schools.

The restrictions will also be eased as regards entry into retail stores and other outlets. In the case of small shops with a floor area up to 15 square meters, the restriction limiting the number of shoppers will no longer apply to children aged up to 15 years accompanying an adult and to assistants of disabled individuals. In all other stores, the customer limit will exclude children aged up to six years who enter with an adult. Stores will be prohibited from requiring parents with baby carriages to use shopping carts, and a child in a baby carriage will be excluded from the limit of shoppers.

The easing of restrictions will also apply to the education system. Starting on 23 November 2020, it will be permitted to administer internationally recognized tests. On 25 November 2020, schools will reopen for senior students in the last year of secondary school, post-secondary vocational school, and conservatory programs as well as for hands-on training. Likewise, one-on-one lessons will be permitted in art and language schools. Universities will reopen for hands-on, laboratory, experimental, and art tuition for senior students in the last year of their study program, where attendance will be limited to groups of no more than 20 students. Likewise, doctoral students will be able to resume their individual study plans.

Starting on 30 November 2020, Grade 1 to 5 and Grade 9 students will return to schools, and Grade 6 to 8 students as well as students in the corresponding years of extended-curriculum grammar schools will begin attending classes on a rotating basis.

Monday will also see the end of the emergency measure that restricts government operations to essential tasks with a minimal number of public servants. Employees of government institutions, however, will be required to restrict contact with clients and members of the public to a minimum. Likewise, government offices will be open to the public for no more than two days a week and five hours per day.

To alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Cabinet approved a Ministry of Agriculture proposal for a special subsidy program under which assistance will be disbursed to food banks and other humanitarian organizations that provide people in need with access to basic foods. Twenty million crowns will be allocated to the Agriculture Ministry for this program from the government’s budgetary reserve to help the relevant organizations cope with the increase in their costs caused by the current crisis. Additional information on the subsidy program is provided in press release issued by the Ministry of Agriculture (in Czech language).

The Cabinet also approved humanitarian aid for Armenia. To help this Caucasian country fight the coronavirus pandemic, the Czech Republic will provide 100,000 facemasks and 43,000 protective gloves worth in excess of one million crowns. The Cabinet approved the use of a Czech Army aircraft for transport of the humanitarian aid to Armenia. The cost will be assumed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The aircraft is scheduled to depart on 24 November 2020.

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Autor: Office of the Government

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