Press Advisories

23. 2. 2021 8:09

The Government has extended the Antivirus program until the end of April, people will have to wear a respirator or surgical masks in selected places f

Press conference after the government meeting, 22 February 2021.
Press conference after the government meeting, 22 February 2021.
From Thursday, people in the Czech Republic will have to wear a respirator or disposable surgical masks in selected public places. The tightening of the extraordinary anti-epidemic measure by the Ministry of Health was approved by the Government of Andrej Babiš at the meeting on Monday, 22 February 2021. It also decided to further extend the Antivirus support program and to provide additional free personal protective equipment for school staff and those at risk of poverty.

At midnight on Wednesday to Thursday, stricter rules for wearing personal protective equipment in public places (in Czech language) will enter into force in the Czech Republic. In the interiors of public buildings and other publicly accessible places where more than two people will be at a distance of less than two meters, it will be possible to move only with a respirator of at least the class FFP2 or KN 95, medical face mask or similar device meeting at least all technical conditions and requirements of the ČSN EN 14683+AC standard, which prevents the spread of droplets. In this case, a transitional exception will apply until 28 February, which will temporarily allow the use of other protective equipment.

From midnight from Wednesday to Thursday, this will also apply to visits to shops, outpatient health care facilities, social services facilities, travel on public transport, but also to international airports, platforms, public transport shelters and waiting rooms, as well as motor vehicles if people who do not share a household travel there, where it will be necessary to wear a respirator or at least two medical face masks placed on top of each other. It will therefore no longer be possible to use, for example, home-made cloth masks. Exceptions to these regulations will continue to apply in special cases, such as for children under 15 years of age. See more details in the press release of the Ministry of Health (in Czech language).

At the same time, the Government agreed to allocate 7.5 million masks from the State Material Reserves emergency stockpile, which will be distributed free of charge to persons and households at risk of poverty or material deprivation through 15 food banks and their central warehouse and about a thousand other social partners, for example non-governmental not-for-profit organisations. Each person should receive one pack containing 50 masks. See more details in the press release of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in Czech language).

3,467,312 FFP2 respirators will also be released from the warehouses of the State Material Reserves Administration, which the Government will send free of charge to schools and other school facilities. Their staff will be receiving three respirators per week between 1 March 2021 and 31 March 2021. These are schools and school facilities in which face-to-face learning will be allowed from 1 March 2021 and subsequently according to the schedule approved by the Government on 15 February.

The extraordinary measure of the Ministry of Health, which sets the conditions for isolation and quarantine in the event of contracting Covid-19 (in Czech language), has also undergone partial changes reflecting new facts. In the event of risky contact, people who have undergone a complete vaccination at least two weeks before or who have undergone Covid-19 in the past 90 days and show no symptoms will no longer need to be quarantined.

The Government has also approved a further extension of the Targeted Antivirus Employment Support Programme. The reason for extending the period of eligibility of Antivirus expenditure until 30 April 2021 is both the persisting bad epidemic situation and the fact that the Parliament has not yet approved an amendment to the Employment Act, which introduces the so-called kurzarbeit. At the same time, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs made minor adjustments, which result from the previous experience with its implementation. More information can be found in the press release of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in Czech language).

The Government also dealt with the amendment to the Electoral Act. In response to the derogating ruling of the Constitutional Court, which repealed several key provisions of the Act, two variants of the amendment were prepared. One envisages maintaining the current 14 constituencies, using the Hare quota to convert votes into seats, which calculates the number of valid votes needed to obtain one seat.

The second variant envisages the creation of a single constituency for the entire Czech Republic where votes would be converted to seats using the Hagenbach-Bischoff quota, where the total number of votes received by eligible candidates is divided by a number of elected representatives increased by 1, i.e. 201. Both versions envisage maintaining the 5% threshold for entry into the Chamber of Deputies and also modifying the additive clause revoked by the Constitutional Court for the conditions for coalitions, i.e. the requirement of 7, 9 and 11 percent respectively, depending on the number of entities forming a coalition. See more details in the press release of the Ministry of the Interior (in Czech language).

The Cabinet also decided to draft and file an action by the Czech Republic against the Republic of Poland before the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to fulfil obligations under Article 259 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. This is a continuation of the dispute over the extension and prolongation of mining in the Polish brown coal mine Turów near the Czech border. The Polish side has long ignored the objection of the Czech Government and representatives of the Liberec Region that groundwater resources, which supply drinking water to up to 30,000 inhabitants of the Liberec Region, may be endangered by expanding mining and deepening the mine. In the opinion of the Czech Government, Poland has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EIA Directive, the SEA Directive, the Water Framework Directive, the Directive on Public Access to Environmental Information and also the EU Treaty. The European Commission largely agreed with the Czech complaint. For details, please see the press release of the Ministry of the Environment (in Czech language).

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