On February 14, the Czech government instituted a new state of emergency that will be in place for two weeks, that is until the end of February. This happened the same day the previous state of emergency expired after the proposal for its extension was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday, February 11. The new state of emergency was introduced after a long debate with regional governors, who eventually asked for a new state of emergency to be put into effect.
Another State of Emergency
A new state of emergency was introduced on Monday, February 14, and should remain in effect until the end of the month. Without the proposal of regional governors, there would be no state of emergency, however, most restrictions would still remain in place even after that. Because of this, most things remain unchanged, though there are some exceptions to that.
The government, for example, agreed on releasing some restrictions:
- Offices now operate normal office hours so that people can use their services. The reason behind this decision is to stop people from queuing in one place for a long time since this could cause the virus to spread faster to more people;
- Dispensing windows of libraries have been reopened, which means it is now possible to borrow new books;
- Commission exams are now also allowed;
- The government also allowed meetings of corporate bodies. If more than ten people attend the meeting, participants need to have a negative antigen test for COVID-19, keep a distance of two meters between each other, and use respirators or face masks. The maximum number of persons is set to 50 unless it is a meeting necessary to fulfill legal obligations;
- Accommodation services (such as hotels, hostels, etc.) can now be used by people travelling for business purposes (business trips) or people travelling to a doctor. This exception also applies to the people accompanying them and foreigners who don’t have a residence in the Czech Republic. Hotels, hostels, etc. can also accommodate people in isolation or quarantine. However, people on business trips also have to prove the purpose of their stay with a written confirmation from the employer.
The restrictions and countermeasures that still remain in effect are as follows:
- Night curfew from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM. There are several exemptions, which apply to people:
- Hospital visits to patients in acute care wards are prohibited;
- The government has closed cable cars to the public;
- Between 5:00 AM and 21:00 PM, people should not gather in groups of more than two people unless they are members of the same household or colleagues;
- Drinking alcohol in public is prohibited. The government justifies this by saying that people could gather in front of pubs, which would contribute to a further spread of coronavirus.
- Restrictions on the retail are still in place. Most of them have to remain closed and the only exception applies to:
- Grocery stores;
- Flower stores;
- Haberdashery and stationery stores.
- Only basic goods can be offered at the stores that are allowed to remain open;
- Restaurants, pubs, clubs, and other catering establishments have to remain closed. They can sell take-out food and drinks through dispensing windows, or via delivery services, and the like;
- The government has also banned the sale of goods at markets and mobile establishments;
- Concerts, music and theatre performances, movies, and circuses are currently prohibited. Such events can take place only without the presence of spectators in the place of the event;
- Swimming pools, wellness centers, saunas, solariums, and salt grottos remain closed;
- The government has also banned public access to zoos, botanical gardens, museums, galleries or castles, and châteaux.
- Restrictions on travelling from abroad also remain in effect.
Will the State of Emergency Be Cancelled?
According to some lawyers and the President of the Senate, Miloš Vystrčil (ODS, Civic Democrats), the decision to institute the new state of emergency is unconstitutional. This is mostly because this new state of emergency directly continues the previous one. Mr. Vystrčil himself has already started preparing a complaint to the Constitutional Court. He will need to find ten other senators who would give him their support and submit the complaint to the Constitutional Court with him.
Another politician who is challenging the new state of emergency is Tomio Okamura (SPD, Freedom and Direct Democracy). His party will try to collect enough signatures to assemble an extraordinary meeting of the Chamber of Deputies to cancel the newly declared state of emergency.
If you struggle with the current situation and various restrictions, make sure to watch the next live stream with our immigration expert on February 18 at 5:00 PM.