The Latest: State of Emergency to End on February 14

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The Czech lower house of parliament on Thursday rejected the government’s request to extend a state of emergency underpinning pandemic measures beyond February 14.

The Chamber of Deputies rejected the extension of the state of emergency in force in the Czech Republic due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The minority government said the decision would mean the end of nationwide limits on movement, including a night-time curfew, the lifting of a ban on public gatherings, and a reopening of retail stores. Some other measures may still be extended under different legislation.

The government of PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) asked to extend the state of emergency for another 30 days. The entire opposition did not support the government’s request. At least 54 parliamentary votes were required for its adoption.

Babiš told MPs that” anyone who voted against extending the state of emergency would be directly responsible for the loss of human lives.”

Early today, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said that “the refusal to prolong the state of emergency implies a tremendous risk of collapsing healthcare and a negative development of the coronavirus pandemic in the Czech Republic”.

“We will make history as a country that demobilized in the middle of a war,” he added.

Minister of Health Jan Blatný (ANO) warned that with the release of restrictions without a state of emergency, the epidemic situation will worsen within two weeks as a result and hit the country’s overburdened hospitals hard.

Imposed on September 30, the state of emergency allows the government to deploy the army and firefighters to help fight the virus or to prolong the closure of most shops.

The Opposition: People are desperate

“The government has the tools to take action under other laws. The numbers are not improving, the measures are not working. The government should stop and come up with another solution,” Deputy Marian Jurečka said.

“People are desperate, they do not trust the government,” said the Head of the Pirates, Ivan Bartoš, during the parliamentary debate. A number of measures taken by the government to limit the spread of covid were not justified and did not make sense even at the time of their announcement,” he added.

The Communist Party, which props up the minority government, withheld support for the state of emergency after its demands to reopen schools and ski lifts were not met.

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