The government asks the Chamber of Deputies for another 30 days of the state of emergency, and wants to simplify the support for enterpreneurs

The government will ask the Chamber of Deputies again for extending the state of emergency by 30 days, i.e. until 16 March. The proposal of the request that will be addressed by the MPs at their Thursday meeting was approved by Andrej Babiš’s cabinet at the government meeting on Monday, 8 February 2021.

The state of emergency, declared by the government due to the unfavourable epidemic situation related to coronavirus SARS CoV-2, has been in effect since 5 October 2020 in the Czech Republic. The reason behind the request for its further extension are the persistent problems caused by the high number of COVID-19 patients mainly for the Czech healthcare system. At the current situation, it is not possible to soften the adopted crisis and extraordinary measures to a level that would not require the state of emergency, according to the government.

Moreover, the government discussed a partial modification to the crisis measure restricting the activity of retail and services (in Czech language). Starting on Tuesday, 9 February, it will allow the operation of establishments performing psychodiagnostic tests that are an integral part of selection procedures and subsequently a prerequisite required by law for the performance of certain activities. It will also extend the range of permitted training events and examinations with practical training for the regulated occupation of a social worker, with obtaining and increasing professional qualification pursuant to the Railway Act, and with re-training courses provided by the Labour Office of the Czech Republic or by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

The cabinet has reopened the discussion on how to best motivate the public to help combating the epidemic by consistently reporting risk contacts or starting quarantine and observing it after a positive coronavirus test. The debates, including the tripartite, resulted in a bill on an extraordinary contribution to employees in an ordered quarantine and on amending the Civil Procedure Code, which introduces an extraordinary quarantine contribution at CZK 370 per calendar day for a maximum of ten days of quarantine.

The contribution would be provided to the employee together with the sickness pay, and it would be paid by the employer who would deduct that expense from the social security and employment policy contributions. The amount of the contribution will be limited so that the sum of the remuneration and the contribution does not exceed 90 percent of the average gross earnings of the employee pursuant to the Labour Code. If the Parliament passes the bill, it will be effective from 1 March for three months. For more details see the press release (in Czech language) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

Further reprieves for individuals and entrepreneurs during the coronavirus crisis have been prepared by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The Minister of Finance received consent from the government for issuing a regulation that waives administrative fees for filing an application to extend the period for submitting a tax return, report or final accounts under the condition that the taxpayer files it between 1 January 2021 and 16 August 2021. The applications for extending the deadline will concern mainly tax returns, such as income tax returns. The regulation has already been published in the Financial Newsletter (in Czech language).

The Ministry of Industry and Trade received consent from the government to implement a new support programme COVID – Fairs/Congresses for entrepreneurs in the fair, event and congress industry who, due to the anti-epidemic government regulations, have lost at least 30 percent of their turnover between March and October 2020 against the same period of 2019. Such entrepreneurs will be able to apply for support at 60 percent of uncovered costs, the rate for State-owned entities or territorial self-governments is 40 percent.

The government has also agreed with the intent of the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance to substantially simplify the system of aid payments to entrepreneurs or employers affected by the coronavirus crisis impacts. Support will be focused on business entities that experienced a drop in sales by 50 percent and more in the decisive period. Self-employed persons will be supported with a compensation bonus that will increase from CZK 500 to CZK 1000 per day. Employers will continue to be supported through the Antivirus programme administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and they will also be able to apply for aid from the Ministry of Industry and Trade that will pay them CZK 500 per employee per day. These compensations will be launched on 1 February.

The cabinet has approved the proposed amendment to the Crisis Act and the Act on liability for offences and proceedings for them. The amendment is to enable more effective punishments for individuals and business entities who repeatedly breach the duties imposed by the government and the restrictions declared under the crisis measures. Evidence of a repeated breach would enable a higher sanction to be imposed. For more on the proposal see the press release (in Czech language) of the Ministry of the Interior.

The government has agreed with the proposal to purchase three freezer containers for the emergency stock of the Ministry of the Interior for temporary storage of bodies of the deceased. It is a preventive step, should the number of deceased persons further increase in the Czech Republic. The containers will serve as a reserve in the case of technical stoppages of the current facilities, they can store a larger number of the bodies of victims of mass casualty incidents, terrorist attacks or natural disasters, but they can be used also as containers for transporting humanitarian aid. The purchase will be arranged by the State Reserve Bureau, with an allocation of CZK 15 million.

The ministers have endorsed the provision of two humanitarian gifts for countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Czech Republic will donate and transport to the Republic of Moldova 300 000 pieces of protective face masks, 100 000 pieces of protective gloves, 5 000 pieces of protective suits and 55 instruments for non-invasive ventilation. The Republic of Peru will receive 400 000 pieces of face masks that will be transported at Peru’s own expense. For more information see the press release (in Czech language) of the Ministry of the Interior.

The government has agreed with the proposal of the Minister of the Interior to involve sentenced persons in the production of components needed for vaccination against COVID-19 in the Czech Republic. Sentenced persons in one of their workplaces in the Heřmanice prison will produce 25 300 pieces of disposable foam pads that will be used as aids for transporting vaccines from the Pfizer-Biontech company.