After a full day of negotiations in the Chamber, the dice have been cast. The state of emergency will end on Sunday, February 14. Although Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, in consensus with the Minister of Health Jan Blatný and Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček, called for its extension until 16 March, they didn't receive a sufficient number of votes in the Chamber of Deputies today. The second proposal of Stanislav Juránek, a member of the KDU-ČSL deputy, who suggested extending the state of emergency until 28 February, didn't pass the Chamber of Deputies either. This means that from Monday, life in the Czech Republic should return to normal. Shops, restaurants and fitness centers should open.
"If the state of national emergency is no longer in place after February 14, within two weeks the situation in most hospitals in the Czech Republic could be the same as it is in the Cheb hospital today,"
Minister of Health Jan Blatný told the press before Thursday's vote on the extension of the state of emergency. And he added that the Czech Republic would have to return to the state of emergency sooner or later anyway.
According to analysts and epidemiologists, without it, within two weeks, most hospitals in the Czech Republic could be in the same situation that those most affected by Covid-19 are facing now.
"It is only a matter of time before the situation gradually worsens and we have to return to a state of emergency. But it will cost us all far more, and not just money,”
Blatný said immediately after the morning meeting of the government, expressing his hope that the cabinet would be able to come to an agreement with the opposition.
"The SPD has been consistently repeating that it will not support the extension of the state of emergency. Why should we change our minds?”
asked Tomio Okamura, vice-president of the lower house and chairman of the movement. It was this opinion, as he noted, that he had interpreted during the negotiations between the coalition and the opposition, when the opposition proposed an agreement to support extension.
According to his words, the SPD has been proposing an amendment to the Public Health Protection Act that would enable the protection of risk groups and the support of the health system without a nationwide state of emergency, since the spring.
According to Mikuláš Ferjenčík, the end of the state of emergency would mean that the fight against the epidemic would be in the hands of the governors instead of the prime minister.
Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček agrees. According to him, in addition to the Ministry of Health, which can issue some measures under the Public Health Protection Act, the governors will now have to step up.
The question is, whether the governors decide to declare a state of danger in the individual regions once the state of emergency ends on Sunday, thereby enabling certain measures against the spread of the disease to stay in place.
On Monday, when the state of emergency ends, entrepreneurs will be able to reopen their businesses. However, according to Hamáček, the operation of catering establishments can be regulated in accordance with the Public Health Protection Act.
As far as schools are concerned, their operation is governed by the Education Act. However, there is a consensus across the parties that they should be gradually reopened. Hamáček noted that should the state of emergency fall, it will be difficult to get them up and running quickly with a testing system included.
According to Hamáček, when the regions declare a state of danger, the supply of regions from state material reserves will end.
When the state of emergency is lifted, the curfew or restriction on the free movement of persons will also cease to apply. That means we'll be able to be outside after 9 p.m.
Even so, the government decided to restrict movement in three districts on Thursday. These are Cheb, Sokolov and Trutnov, where the infection numbers are the highest. Residents are not allowed to travel anywhere else from these places. There are, of course, exceptions, such as commuting to work. The ban is valid from midnight on Friday until the end of the state of emergency. The police will monitor compliance with the regulation starting on Friday.