Police car at Prague's Náplavka farmers' market via iStock / Madeleine_Steinbach

Czech President signs bill enabling on-the-spot fines for face mask violations

Czech police will now be able to impose fines of up to 10,000 crowns on the spot for violating anti-coronavirus measures

Prague, May 11 (CTK) – Czech police will now be able to issue fines of up to 10,000-crown on the spot to people violating anti-coronavirus measures under a bill that President Miloš Zeman signed into law today, his office has announced.

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, passed the government bill on April 8 and the Senate, the upper house, debated it on April 17.

However, senators neither approved the bill, nor rejected it, nor returned it to the Chamber of Deputies with proposed changes. Consequently, the bill was only submitted to Zeman for signature after the 30-day constitutional deadline for the Senate to debate bills had passed.

Under the new legislation, which takes effect after it is widely promoted in the Law Digest, police officers can fine people, for instance, for violating the duty of wearing face masks or other nose and mouth coverings in public, which has been obligatory since March 19.

The Interior Ministry has argued that the current form of punishment, i.e. administrative proceedings, is lengthy and inefficient.

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The new police power will increase both 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.

Czech police will still solve most minor offences by a reprimand, but they need a more efficient tool for more serious cases, Interior Minister and Central Crisis Staff (UKS) head Jan Hamáček (Social Democrats, CSSD) said when justifying the bill.

The bill’s critics, mainly from the opposition parties Civic Democrats (ODS) and Pirates, have pointed out that measures issued by the government and Health Ministry were implemented day-by-day and their interpretation was often unclear.

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