Breaking: State of Emergency Extended Until May 17

The lower house of the Czech parliament voted on Tuesday to extend a state of emergency until May 17, a week less than the government had sought, as the country charts a course to emerge from a coronavirus lockdown earlier than forecast.

The extension is a week shorter than the government sought. The prime minister, Andrej Babiš, had asked for an extension until 25 May to be able to keep restrictions on business in place.

The state of emergency was due to expire on 30 April.

The government of Andrej Babiš and the Social Democrats have been trying to secure sufficient support for the extension, but the opposition parties remained firmly against it.

It has announced that it now expects to reopen the economy faster than previously forecast, although not in time for the deadline now set by parliament.

Babis said after the vote that the government would seek legal amendments to keep some restrictions in place after the state of emergency ends, news agency CTK reported.

The state of emergency allows the government to adopt measures to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, such as limitations on free movement inside the country and across borders, shop and restaurant closures, and streamlined procurement of medical supplies.

Prague was one of the few governments to declare a state of emergency before the country had recorded its first coronavirus death.

By 11 March it had closed all schools, limited public gatherings, banned all public events, sealed its borders, and shuttered all non-essential stores. It also made face masks obligatory in public.

PM Babis’ cabinet declared a state of emergency — the median of three possible states of crisis — on 12 March.

Almost 7,500 people have been tested positive for the coronavirus in the Czech Republic, according to government figures released on Tuesday, 225 have died.

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