Prague, April 30 (CTK) – The government today prolonged the state of emergency over ongoing coronavirus epidemic until May 17 after the Chamber of Deputies gave consent to it on Tuesday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has told journalists.
The state of emergency has been lasting since March 12. If it were not prolonged, it would end today.
At first, the government wanted it to continue until May 25 in harmony with the government-proposed plans of relaxation of lockdown rules.
However, the lower house only approved the Communist (KSCM) proposal to prolong the state of emergency until May 17.
The government wants to ensure the continued restrictions by an amendment to the public health protection law.
ANO originally did not want to prolong the state of emergency beyond April 30.
The proposal for prolongation was filed by the government following the Prague Municipal Court decision to cancel the main measures implemented by the Health Ministry as part of the law on public health, saying the government should have proceeded according to the crisis law, as it did at the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The cabinet then followed the court’s verdict.
In order for the government plan to gradually ease the current restrictions, it needs the state of emergency to stay in place until at least May 25.
Babiš said the solution will be an amendment to the law on public health, designed to give the Health Ministry the power to close down or limit the activity of shops, workshops, public transport and public gatherings.
The ministry is also to have the power of mandating the use of face masks and other protective equipment.
Babiš said the cabinet will debate the amendment on May 4 and deputies will address it in a state of legislative emergency.
Most opposition parties stated they do not agree with the Health Ministry gaining the aforementioned powers, explaining that the capability to introduce such restrictions of fundamental rights should not be in the hands of a single minister.
Opposition parties mostly agree that the government is introducing such changes since it was not able to provide enough substantial arguments for the prolongation of the state of emergency up to May 25.