Miloš Zeman at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on April 27, 2019 via Wikimedia / Presidential Press and Information Office

Prague court bears responsibility for the impact of cancelling restrictions, says Czech President

Miloš Zeman is convinced that by cancelling the measures, the court takes all responsibility for its verdict's impact on the lives and health of Czech residents

Prague, April 23 (CTK) – President Miloš Zeman is convinced that by cancelling the anti-coronavirus measures, the court takes all responsibility for its verdict’s impact on the lives and health of inhabitants and the economy of the Czech Republic, his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told CTK today.

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Zeman reacted to today’s verdict of the Prague Municipal Court cancelling, as of April 27, the Health Ministry’s four anti-coronavirus measures restricting free movement of people as well as retail sale and services in Czechia. The court considers the measures unlawful as the government did not adopt them under the crisis law. The verdict is valid.

The court decision confirms that the crisis measures to fight the coronavirus epidemic can only be taken during the state of emergency, Deputy PM, Interior Ministry and Central Crisis Staff head Jan Hamáček (Social Democrats, CSSD) told CTK today, commenting on the verdict.

The Interior Ministry has pointed out for a long time that the crisis law should be followed during the state of emergency and that the government should take crisis measures through its resolution, the ministry’s spokeswoman Klára Dlubalová texted.

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The government is to debate a possible extension of the state of emergency, valid until April 30, at its ongoing meeting. Unlike Hamáček, PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) does not support its prolongation.

The centre-right opposition parties mostly approved of the court verdict today.

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It confirms the previous fears that the government was taking unlawful and incompetent steps in the fight with the coronavirus epidemic, senior opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman Petr Fiala said.

The Pirates have since the beginning warned of the same risks that the court mentioned in its justification of the cancellation of the Health Ministry’s measures, Pirate leader Ivan Bartoš said.

Mayors and Independents (STAN) chairman Vit Rakusan said he would like to know who would cover the damage caused to businesses by the government restrictions.

By cancelling the four restrictions, the court met a lawsuit filed by healthcare law expert Ondrej Dostál, who criticised the ministry’s measures as arbitrary, chaotic and incomprehensible.

The court cancelled particularly the measures from March 26 and April 17, restricting retail sales, and from March 23 and April 15, limiting free movement of people.

The court says the government has time until April 27 to adopt the restrictions in the legal form as a crisis measure.

Lawyer Dostál, who succeeded with his suit, said the court’s decision might help citizens to be compensated for the damage their businesses suffered by the government restrictions.

“Today’s decision may influence the compensation of the damage. This might be good news for sole traders and small businesspeople who were afflicted especially strongly,” Dostál said. However, he warned of the effort to seek a too high compensation.

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