Government to ask Chamber of Deputies to extend state of emergency by 30 days, will also propose stricter punishment for violation of restrictions

Office of the Government

The government will submit to the Chamber of Deputies a request for it to express its consent to extending the state of emergency for another thirty days, i.e. until Monday 11 January 2021. The Andrej Babiš cabinet decided to submit the request at its meeting on Monday 7 December 2020. It will also submit a bill to deputies which would stiffen fines for failure to observe the anti-epidemic rules laid down by the government and Ministry of Health.

The state of emergency in the Czech Republic is currently only in effect until Saturday 12 December. In the government’s opinion, however, the epidemiological situation is not improving, it is stagnating. Thus the government-imposed crisis measures must be extended once again, and a good part of them can only be enacted under a state of emergency.

At the same time, the government adopted several changes to the currently valid crisis measures. Starting Wednesday 9 December it will once again be prohibited to consume alcohol in public. Alongside this, it will also be prohibited to sell it „to go“ from take-out windows or restaurants, as well as at markets. Restaurants and other catering establishments will have to close at 8 pm and will not be allowed to run take-out windows after that time either. As of Thursday 10 December, the government is lifting the obligation for medical students to work at healthcare facilities and public health stations. Effective 8 December the government is amending its resolution of 16 October, which concerns the option of replacing a compulsory pre-recruitment medical examination with a sworn statement, extending this option until the end of the year.

The exceptional measures of the Ministry of Health will also be amended. The government took note of the fact that from 8 December, new conditions will apply for the wearing of face masks by amateur athletes indoors and for coaches and referees and that the ministry has prepared rules for the antigen testing of all clients of domestic health insurance companies that express an interest. These rules for testing will come into effect tomorrow and remain in effect until 15 January.

The government took under advisement the COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy produced by the Ministry of Health. This strategy is based on the current knowledge about the COVID-19 vaccines being developed, knowing that so far none of these vaccines has been approved and registered by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), or the European Commission. Vaccination is to be a fundamental component of the fight against the pandemic. The ministry envisages a first phase of centralised vaccine purchasing, vaccination at the vaccination centres of university hospitals and hospitals in the various regions, at vaccination centres of medical institutes and at the vaccination centre of the State Health Institute. Priority should be given to vaccinating the highest risk groups of the population – the elderly and chronically ill, medical and public health workers, and employees of social care institutions and critical infrastructure entities.

The government will also send to Parliament an amendment to the act on crisis management and a related draft act on the powers of the Police of the Czech Republic and municipal police to penalise violations of the crisis measures and extraordinary measures laid down in connection with the presence of the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus within the Czech Republic. The legal draft reacts to findings from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It has come to light that under the existing legislation it is difficult to penalise legal persons and natural persons engaged in business for violating the crisis measures and that the fines that can be imposed on natural persons for such violations are low compared to other offences. For this reason the government wishes to raise them to CZK 50 000. The draft entrusts the Police of the Czech Republic and municipal police with overseeing compliance with the crisis measures, at the same time allowing these authorities to impose sanctions for violation of crisis measures in the form of an on-the-spot fine.

Cabinet also approved an amendment to the government order on the implementation of several provisions of the act on insurance and funding of export with state support. This government order amends the system of guarantees provided by the Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation for the repayment of credit provided by banks to pro-export oriented exporters and manufacturing and trading enterprises that are encountering a shortage of liquidity due to the adverse economic situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The amendment allows such guarantees to be provided through to 30 June 2021. It will now be possible to also provide such guarantees for loans payable in up to six years instead of the current five and several other rules for the provision thereof are also being loosened.

The government also approved an increase in the registered capital of the Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation of CZK 1.5 billion, specifically in the form of an increase in share capital by subscription of 1 500 newly issued registered ordinary shares in book-entry form with a nominal value and issue price of one million CZK without public offer utilising the pre-emptive right of the sole shareholder to subscribe the shares. The increased capital should allow EGAP to continue to provide Czech exporters with state-supported insurance during the coronavirus crisis and not have to scale back its activities due to a lack of funding.

The government likewise approved a proposal to extend the option of legal entity bodies from making decisions remotely or by correspondence during the pandemic. The Ministry of Justice proposes that this option remain in the law until 30 June 2021. The current wording of the law only allows this until the end of the year. More in the Ministry of Justice’s press release (in Czech language).

Autor: Office of the Government

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