Due to the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, government to limit sporting, cultural and social events, the activities of public authorities and schools

At an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, 8 October 2020, the government of Andrej Babiš approved another package of crisis measures in response to unfavourable developments in the epidemic and to the growing number of those infected with the Covid-19 disease. In two waves, starting from 9 and 12 October, it will limit and then completely ban, among other things, sporting, cultural and other leisure events, and will limit the activities of public authorities, schools and restaurant opening hours. It is proposing extraordinary care allowance conditions for parents who have to stay at home due to school closures or the quarantine of a child.

The approved crisis measures mean among other things, that from midnight on 9 October there is once more a ban on the operation of gambling and casinos, the operation and use of indoor sports grounds (with the exception of physical education in the first stage of elementary schools), on the operation of artificial swimming pools and all wellness facilities, other than health services, as well as on visits and tours to zoos and all organized hobby, recreational and other clubs for children from 6 to 18 years old.

There will be further restrictions on restaurants, bars and similar catering facilities, as well as discotheques and clubs, which, with the exception of dispensing windows, will once more have to close at 20:00, with no more than four people being allowed at a table at a time. Live music and dancing will be once more be banned at these facilities. In food courts, only two people will be able to sit at one table and there will be no public wireless internet connection anywhere. It will be possible to enter shopping centres and other establishments in groups of a maximum of two people.

Theatres, cinemas and organized sports events will operate under the current conditions until midnight on Sunday. From Monday, however, they will be subject to a second, stricter wave of measures, which will apply for 14 days. During this period, all cultural, sporting and social events, religious services, dance or club events, both amateur and professional, will be cancelled if they bring together more than ten people indoors or twenty people outdoors, unless these are members of the same household. This prohibition will not apply only to those employees, entrepreneurs, meetings, sessions and similar activities defined by law. No fun fairs, congresses or trade fairs will be allowed. The participation of people at weddings and funerals and subsequent banquets/wakes will also be limited to 30 people, and the right of assembly will be limited to a maximum of 500, and participants in these events may move around in groups of up to 20 maintaining social distancing of at least 2 metres and must have face masks or the equivalent (protect respiratory equipment).

There are also restrictions in the field of education. From Monday, 12 October, the presence of students at universities will be prohibited, with the exception of clinical and practical teaching and internships of students in the study programmes for general medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and other healthcare study programmes. With the exception of compulsory school attendance, practical teaching and school practical training and teaching at institutions for institutional care or protective care, at the Ministry of Justice and one- and two-year practical schools, teaching at secondary and higher vocational schools and conservatories will also be prohibited. Pupils of the second stage of elementary schools will be divided into half-classes, with each half of the class going to school in only one of the next two weeks. With the exception of individual tuition, the operation of elementary artistic and language schools is also prohibited, and a total ban will also affect leisure centres and school clubs.

A total ban on school attendance will then apply on 26 and 27 October, as this will be followed by the public holiday on 28 October and the subsequent short autumn holiday. Children will therefore not go to school for the whole of that week.

Under the declared state of emergency the government has also limited the activities of public authorities and institutions so that office hours for the public will be only two days a week and five hours a day for two weeks, and with precisely specified exceptions has banned visits to healthcare and social care facilities.

The government has also discussed and approved a draft law on adjustments to the provision of the care allowance in relation to the extraordinary epidemic measures and amendments to the law on health insurance, by means of which it wishes to adjust the conditions for providing a care allowance to parents whose children have remained at home due to school closure or due to the quarantine as ordered. In a proposal that the government wants to establish through Parliament as a matter of urgency under the legislative emergency powers, it is extending the support period for the provision of benefits from nine, or sixteen calendar days in the case of a single parent, to all or part of a school closure due to the continuation of the emergency. The care allowance will also be available to employees working on an agreement on work activities and an agreement on the performance of work.

These changes will apply during the 2020/2021 school year, i.e. they will end on 30 June 2021, while the care allowance will not be paid for the days of school holidays, days off under headteacher’s prerogative or for restrictions on teaching on individual days. At the same time, the law anticipates a simplification for the submission of applications for this benefit. For example, parents will not have to provide proof from a school that it was closed, their affidavit will suffice. More information in the press release of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in Czech language).