Today, the Chamber of Deputies decided to extend the state of emergency due to the coronavirus epidemic until 12 December. The government had originally wanted to extend the state of emergency by a month, i.e. until December 20, but the MEPs didn't give the plan a green light and accepted the proposal of the Communist Party. 54 deputies voted in favor, 46 against.
COVID-19 and Christmas gifts
During his speech, the Minister of Health Jan Blatný stated that the extension of the state of emergency is necessary so that COVID-19 wouldn't spread during pre-Christmas shopping.
"It is human nature to satisfy one's needs, and I wouldn't blame anyone if the infection spun out of control, had these measures not been set in place,"
said Blatný. However, he warns that in addition to the Christmas gifts they've bought, people will bring disease home to their families.
Area measures cannot be enforced without the state of emergency
According to Blatný, tf the state of emergency ended before Christmas, we could have a much worse epidemic situation on our plates in January.
"The situation is still very unstable and therefore vulnerable, the decline and positive trends are not equally evident in all regions and we still have a large number of patients in our hospitals,"
Blatný explained. It's not possible to introduce area measures without the state of emergency.
According to Babiš, the situation has improved, but the battle hasn't been won yet
According to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, new data indicate an improvement in the situation. However, he believes that the final victory over the virus is still a long way off:
"The virus will be with us for a long time to come, and if we do not respect its existence and the danger it poses, there may be a situation where we will face its spread to such an extent that it will endanger the health system."
A sloppy request
In addition to the ANO movement, the CSSD and the head of the KSCM, Vojtěch Filip, also expressed their support of the 30-day extension. The Minister of the Interior and Party Chairman Jan Hamáček believes that the number of infected people is still high. The ODS proposed to extend the state of emergency by 8 days, and the Communists until 12 December.
The chairman of the Pirates Party, Ivan Bartoš, rebuked Babiš for having underestimated the situation in the summer. He let himself be heard that the state of emergency wasn't toy for the ministers to play with and refused to support another extension. The head of TOP 09 Pekarová Adamová claimed that the government's request was sloppy. The SPD had already announced in advance that they would not support the extension, even for a shorter period of time.
What will Christmas look like?
Yesterday, Blatný said that Christmas could take place in the third of the five levels of the anti-epidemic system (DOG). Although the numbers of shoppers as well as the opening hours are limited at this level, shops and restaurants are already open. People can move freely without restriction, too.
How does the DOG work?
The DOG evaluates the epidemic based on several criteria.
"Basically, we're interested in how many people have been infected recently and how many seniors have been infected recently. We're also looking at how the virus is spreading in the population. The last parameter is whether we are able to record those infected effectively and quickly, which is reflected in the positivity of tests and the tracing system, "
outlined Blatný. At present, the Czech Republic is at the fifth, strictest level.
However, several measures against COVID-19 changed on Wednesday, such as the rules for shops. Each customer now has to have an area of 15 square meters for themselves when shopping. Shop assistants have to manage queues and monitor whether people are keeping the required distance, but opening hours have been extended to 9pm (from 8pm). From today on, dispensing windows can be open two hours longer, from 5am to 9pm. It is also possible to play sports on outdoor sports grounds.
What about pupils and students?
In addition, first-graders, second-graders and pupils in special needs schools returned to the classes today. Today, Jan Blatný together with the Minister of Education Robert Plaga announced that next Wednesday (November 25) pupils in the last year of secondary school will also be able to return. Practical teaching in elementary schools of art and teaching of doctoral students at universities will also be resumed. From November 30, other elementary school students will return to school. First grade children and 9th graders without restrictions. The remaining higher elementary school children will take turns at school.
Yet another extension
At present, the state of emergency has been in force since 5 October, and was supposed to end on 3 November. The last time the MEPs decided to extend it was on 30 October. YES and the CSSD then sought to extend the state of emergency until December 3, which provoked a heated debate in the Chamber of Deputies. If the MEPs hadn't extended it today, it would have expired tomorrow, 20 November.