Czech Central Crisis Staff to meet Monday, State of Emergency cannot be ruled out, says PM

"The declaration of a state of emergency cannot be ruled out. It is a question for the Minister of Health," says Andrej Babiš

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 18.09.2020 14:32 (updated on 18.09.2020)

Prague, Sept 18 (CTK) – The Central Crisis Staff will be reactivated because of the coronavirus epidemic on Monday, September 21, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček (Social Democrats, CSSD) said on Twitter today.

“We agreed with the Prime Minister on the reactivation of the Central Crisis Staff as of Monday,” he said.

Hamáček and his party and most of the opposition parties have been calling for the re-activation of the crisis staff due to the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) opposed it and argued that there was no need for it because the Government Council for Health Risks did its work.

Hamáček, who headed the Central Crisis Staff in the spring, said the cabinet will deal with the proposal for the reactivation at its Monday meeting.

Babiš confirmed today that the government would reactivate the crisis staff.

“The cooperation between the regions and the Health Ministry was not good, and so the regional governors pushed for the activation of the crisis staff. It will become a platform for communication between individual ministries and regions,” he told Denik today.

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Babiš said the regional governors want to cooperate with Hamáček who will head the crisis staff again.

Replying to a question by Czech Television, Babiš said another state of emergency, which was in effect in the country in the spring, could not be ruled out.

“The declaration of a state of emergency cannot be ruled out. It is a question for the Minister of Health, who must assess if the proposed measures are in accordance with the law. We will find out from the Minister on Monday. I can’t say that now.”

On Thursday, the Association of Czech Regions called on Babiš to reactivate the Staff that worked in the spring. Association of Czech Regions deputy head Jiří Běhounek (for CSSD) said Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (for ANO) did not react to the regional governors’ call at all at a video conference meeting on Thursday.

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The opposition parties criticized Babiš for being against the reactivation of the staff and deciding to re-establish it only now, which they call too late.

“The Prime Minister was obstinately rejecting to reactivate the crisis staff on Thursday, and now he approves it. It is clearly too late, but at least so,” Civic Democrat (ODS) leader Petr Fiala told CTK.

He said the ODS proposed to activate the crisis staff already in early August. “The crisis is serious, the Prime Minister repeatedly fails and lies. At such a moment, a man who changes his opinions so fast should not head the country. It is dangerous for the country and especially for its inhabitants,” Fiala said.

Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) chairman Marian Jurecka told CTK that Babiš took action only under pressure and belatedly.

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“He is repeating the same mistake he made in March,” Jurecka said, adding that he hoped the Central Crisis Staff would secure far better coordination and systemic measures.

In the spring, Babiš was against the convoking of the Central Crisis Staff at first as well.

Pirate deputy chairwoman Olga Richterova said it was good that the staff would meet again.

“It is a pity that the Prime Minister is less interested in the protection of public health than in his own PR image,” she said.

Labour Minister Jana Maláčová (CSSD) said on Twitter that a lot of time was wasted, unfortunately.

The government declared the first state of emergency in the Czech Republic to curb the epidemic on March 12, and the Central Crisis Staff was founded three days later. It finished operations on June 11.