The Government Restricts Free Movement of People to the Necessary Minimum Due to the Spread of the Coronavirus Epidemic

At an extraordinary cabinet meeting held on Sunday 15 March 2020, the government decided to implement further extraordinary measures as prevention against the spread of the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus.  Effective from 00:00 hours on 16 March through to 6:00 a.m. on 24 March, it has declared restrictions on the free movement of persons with the necessary exceptions.  It has also extended the guarding of borders reintroduced earlier.

Hence, as of 00:00 hours on 16 March, a restriction on the free movement of persons applies throughout the Czech Republic.  Leaving one’s home will only be permitted in precisely specified cases, e.g., for travel to work or on business, necessary travel to see family or next of kin, or travel to purchase food and basic necessities, medications, or articles for animals, travel to a doctor or to attend to urgent official matters, or to a post office.  Naturally, police and municipal police officers, physicians, and social workers will be permitted to move about while on duty, and individual visits to parks and nature are also permitted.

Furthermore, the government has ordered persons to restrict their presence in publicly accessible places to the minimum time required, and to limit their contact with others to the necessary minimum.  The government has asked employers to enable their employees to work from home to the maximum extent possible, to grant to the maximum extent possible any application for vacation or paid time off, and to limit the performance of any work that is not essential to the maintenance of the employer’s operations.

When in contact with others, people should maintain a safe distance of at least two meters.  Furthermore, the government recommends using cashless means of payment to the maximum extent and to pay extra attention to hygienic measures.

The government has also approved the possibility of deploying soldiers of the Army of the Czech Republic and Customs Administration in addressing the emergency situation and has extended the extraordinary measure concerning the temporary reintroduction of the protection of the internal border of the Czech Republic through to 4 April 2020 at 23:59 hours.  Border protection pertains to the land border with Germany and Austria and the air border; the borders with Poland and Slovakia are guarded by the two countries at their own initiative.

The government has also specified the extraordinary measure prohibiting retail sales and sales of services in establishments, which newly do not apply to car service shops of up to 30 persons, towing services, vendors selling spare parts, delivery services, shops with gardening and agricultural articles, sales of tickets, spa facilities providing services that are at least in part paid from public health insurance, funeral services, flower shops, shops selling and dispensing medical devices, and establishments related to the construction business.  The ban also does not apply to any activities that do not constitute a trade under the Trade Licensing Act.  

On the contrary, as of 16 March 2020 at 6:00 a.m., the sale of accommodation services is prohibited, with the exception of dormitories, spa facilities, and school residences; the operation of driving schools is prohibited, as well as that of alternative taxi services, with the exception of food delivery, operation of self-serve laundry and dry-cleaning facilities, retail sales of building materials and the operation of DIY shops.  As at the same time, the prohibition on the operation of indoor and outdoor sports facilities will apply.  The government has also decided that, until further notice, “blue” parking zones in towns will not apply.  Direct sales of tickets on trains have also been banned

Furthermore, effective from 16 March 2020, the government has prohibited all physicians, dentists, pharmacists, and healthcare professionals to draw vacation time during the state of emergency.  On the contrary, it has ordered all public and administrative authorities to transfer to restricted operations until 24 March at 6:00 a.m., consisting of dealing only with the necessary matters, restricting in-person contact with the public and clients as well as among their employees, and reduce the number of employees present at the workplace to the necessary minimum. 

Because of the ban on free movement, ministers have also decided to postpone the Senate by-election which the President called for 27 and 28 March and 3 and 4 April, due to the death of the Speaker of the Senate Jaroslav Kubera, until a date which is to be specified.

By another Extraordinary Measure, the government has also ordered regional governors and the Mayor of the City of Prague to arrange, if need be, educational facilities that will take care of children aged 3 to 10 whose parents are employees of security corps, municipal police, healthcare service providers, public health protection authorities, or members of the armed forces, or teaching or non-teaching staff of a designated school or educational institution, with there being no more than 15 children in each such group.

Furthermore, the government has imposed a labour obligation on students in fifth and sixth year of in-person study of general medicine at faculties of medicine of public universities and students in the highest year of daily or attendance-based programmes or disciplines preparing from the profession of a general nurse, paediatric nurse, paramedic, public health protection and support assistant, and practical nurse, to ensure the provision of medical services by medical services providers and to ensure the operation of public health authorities during the state of emergency. 

Furthermore, the government has approved the free release of the material reserve by the National Material Reserves Administration for use by fundamental elements of the integrated rescue system and by the Army of the Czech Republic during interventions in affected territories and for direct humanitarian aid during the state of emergency, and of the emergency supplies and supplies for humanitarian aid in the form of a loan or handing over for consumption and permanent use during the state of emergency.  The National Material Reserves Administration has been assigned the task of purchasing the necessary materials and equipment, by means of a tender without publication.

The ministers have also decided to free up another CZK 1.5 bn from the government budget reserves for the Ministry of Health for purchasing the necessary protective equipment and other equipment that will be used in addressing the emergency situation related to the spread of the coronavirus. 

The government has also decided to change the Statute of the Central Emergency Committee.  Deputy Minister of Health Roman Prymula was appointed the head of the Emergency Committee.

The government has also approved measures in the tax area whereby the Ministry of Finance accommodates entrepreneurs and other tax entities affected by the coronavirus epidemic.  For details of the extraordinary measures in the tax sphere see the Ministry of Finance Press Release.