Government approves updated airway protection measures and eased rules for children returning from abroad

The Government today approved an additional extraordinary measure of the Ministry of Health on protection of the airways, which responds to the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court.  The Cabinet also agreed to two days of paid leave for civil servants who have had or will have vaccinations this year.  It also agreed to ease conditions for children aged 6 to 12 years old returning from abroad.

The Ministry of Health has supplemented the justification for the extraordinary measure on protection of the airways as requested by the Supreme Administrative Court.  “The Court did not question the extraordinary measure itself, but requested more detailed justification. We respect its opinion and have tried to comply with its requests as much as possible. We have supplemented the justification with data from foreign expert studies that demonstrate the importance of airway protection and its positive impact on mitigating the spread of the disease.  We consulted experts on the text of the supplemented measure. We have sent it for comments to the public health authorities, health institutes and experts from the MeSES group,” explained Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch. The amended extraordinary measure takes effect on 31 July and builds on the measure annulled by the court.  The text of the new justification contains 20 pages of expert arguments, which the Ministry prepared with the Central Management Team and in close consultation with the directors of public health authorities, health institutes and representatives of the MeSES group.

At the same time, following the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court, an exception from wearing protective equipment has been added for persons who have a medical certificate stating that they cannot use the prescribed protection for serious health reasons.  In such a case, they are obliged to use protection of a lower class, and not even that in exceptional cases, which must be explicitly stated in the medical certificate.  Healthcare service providers are obliged to issue such a certificate only to those who are genuinely prevented from using protective equipment for serious medical reasons and to make a note of this, including the diagnosis, in the medical records.

At its session, the Government also supported two days of paid leave for state employees in civil service and for administrative staff who have received or will receive the COVID-19 vaccination by the end of 2021.  The Prime Minister and trade union representatives confirmed this decision by signing an amendment to a higher-level collective agreement.  At the same time, the Cabinet instructed all ministers to ensure that other employees who are not subject to the service law are also given two days off work after the vaccination.  Employees will only have to show their national certificate or Tečka application.  “The state is a major employer and should therefore encourage its employees to get vaccinated.  Many companies in the private sector already offer various benefits to their employees.  I believe that other employers will be inspired by our idea of paid time off for the vaccinated. And we will also recommend it to all regions and municipalities,” the Minister stressed.

Another amendment discussed by the Government today concerns a change to the protective measure governing entry into the Czech Republic.  As of Saturday 31 July, the conditions for the return of children aged 6 to 12 from countries with a high and very high risk of infection (red and dark red countries) are being changed.  Upon arrival, these children will only need to undergo a PCR test within 5 days. If the result is negative, they do not have to undergo self-isolation afterwards.  They also do not have to take the test before arriving in the Czech Republic when travelling by public transport.  However, please note that the carrier may impose stricter rules, so all families are advised to carefully check the conditions of the carrier they are travelling with before travelling.

The protective measure also now includes an exemption for foreign university students travelling to the Czech Republic to study.  In view of the forthcoming start of the academic year at universities, applications for long-term visas and long-term stays for the purpose of studying at a university in the Czech Republic and in countries with an extreme risk of contagion can be accepted.

Most recently, the Government today agreed to extend the effective date of the list of countries at extreme risk of contagion, which remains unchanged, until 31 August.