Prague, April 8 (CTK) – The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, passed, by a quite narrow majority, a government bill enabling the police to impose up to 10,000-crown fines on people violating the anti-coronavirus measures today.
The bill is yet to be approved by the Senate, the upper house, and then signed by President Milos Zeman into law.
Under the legislation, police officers can fine people, for instance, for violating the restricted free movement and not wearing face masks or other mouth and nose covers in public.
Critics of the bill from the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) and Pirates pointed out that the government and Health Ministry measures were implemented day by day and their interpretation was often unclear.
Interior Minister and Central Crisis Staff (UKS) head Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) justified the legislation, saying a fine would replace lengthy administrative proceedings. Besides, the police will still solve most such minor offences by a reprimand as to date. However, they need a more efficient tool for more serious cases, he added.
TOP 09 deputy group head Miroslav Kalousek expressed fears that the bill would boost potential corruption and was at variance with the recommendation of non-cash payments.
Pirate MP Jakub Michalek said the police should rather watch the observance of isolation and quarantine of the infected.
The bill was supported by 52 of of the 96 MPs present. Along with the government ANO and CSSD deputies, the Communists (KSCM) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) helped push it through.
Zdenek Ondracek (KSCM) reminded that 540 violations of the anti-coronavirus measures had been reported last week and the regional sanitary stations and town halls would have to deal with them.
The Interior Ministry argues that the current form of punishment in administrative proceedings is lengthy and inefficient. The new police power will increase the efficiency of the adopted measures and secure their observance. A fine on the spot is also better for the offenders as they will avoid administrative proceedings, the ministry says.