The Czech Chamber of Deputies has extended the state of emergency by three weeks, that is until February 14. The government’s original proposal was to extend the state of emergency by one month exactly, which was, however, rejected. The Chamber of Deputies’ meeting was also disrupted by an incident caused by one of the MPs.
State of Emergency Extended Again
On January 21 the Chamber of Deputies agreed to extend the current state of emergency by three weeks until February 14. The government originally proposed to extend it by 30 days, until January 21, because many countermeasures are tied to it, but this proposal was rejected. This was largely caused by the Communist Party which demanded a wider opening of schools, winter resorts, and accommodation services in exchange for supporting the 30 days-long extension. It is expected that in February, the state of emergency will be extended again, though.
The Minister of Health, Jan Blatný, claims that loosening the restrictions may be possible no sooner than at the turn of January and February. The goal is to reopen, for example, the schools as soon as the situation allows it which, according to Blatný, won’t happen before February 1. This should be supposedly discussed next Wednesday. As for schools specifically, only students of first and second years of elementary schools can currently attend classroom teaching.
At the same time, there are other changes that could be possibly approved soon. This would include mainly changes to the PES system to allow people with a negative COVID-19 test to attend, for example, some cultural or sports events. On the other hand, another proposal that may be discussed is mandatory wearing respirators at stores and on public transport. This idea was inspired by Austria and Germany where this countermeasure is already in effect. It is therefore recommended to purchase a respirator soon because the demand for respirators has already started increasing and businesses might soon run out of them.
Despite the dire situation, some types of stores were allowed to reopen on Tuesday, January 19. Those are:
- stationery retail stores,
- children’s clothing stores,
- children’s shoe stores.
Even though these stores are now open again, it is necessary to keep in mind that only one person per 15 square metres can be present at a store at one time.
Brawl in the Chamber of Deputies
Thursday’s meeting of the Chamber of Deputies was disrupted by one of the MPs, Lubomír Volný, who attacked the meeting chairman and Vice-Chair of the Chamber of Deputies, Tomáš Hanzl (ČSSD, Czech Social Democratic Party). Volný was addressing the Chamber of Deputies without a face mask on and when warned by Hanzl about this, he verbally attacked and threatened Hanzl who later turned off the microphone. This enraged Volný who immediately attempted to seize control over the Chairman’s microphone. The situation escalated to the point of a physical conflict. This attack attracted the attention of the local and foreign media and Volný’s actions are now investigated by the Police as a riot.