The Czech government on Monday extended the restrictions on movement and
business taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus until April 11. The
conditions remain the same –people should stay at home as much as
possible with the exception of trips to work, necessary visits of family
and loved ones and purchases of food, vital supplies, fuel and medicine.
The restrictions on shops, restaurants, pubs, cafes, galleries, sports
facilities and other institutions will also remain in place until April 11.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said earlier they were in favour of extending the state of emergency beyond April 11, for another 30 days. However that would require approval from the lower house of Parliament.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of public media as
a reliable communication tool, according to Jakub Macek, head of media
studies at Brno’s Masaryk University.
According to a poll conducted by the institution 56 percent of Czechs rate Czech public television and Czech public radio as “reliable” or “absolutely reliable” and turn to them in times of crisis.
Ratings show that last weekend Czech public television had 38 percent of the viewer market. Macek said both public radio and television had proved their ability to respond quickly to a crisis to meet the needs of the public, not just in terms of information.
For instance Czech Television launched online school lessons for children almost as soon as schools closed and has now launched a new channel for the elderly who are mostly confined to their homes.
The head of the Czech Chamber of Commerce Vladimír Dlouhý has welcomed
the government’s COVID 19 aid package for employers and entrepreneurs,
but stressed that they should be better informed as regards the conditions
under which they can ask for help.
According to the results of a flash poll conducted among 1400 entrepreneurs two-fifths of Czech businesses plan to make use of the kurzarbeit scheme approved by the government, Dlouhý said.
Almost a third of enterprises say they have exhausted their financial reserves. One in four companies have stopped paying their suppliers.
So far, seven percent of respondents have laid off workers – of that 17 percent in the restaurant business and 14 percent in tourism.
Close to 35 percent of companies in the manufacturing industry are also considering redundancies in the future.
The authorities have lifted the lockdown on 21 villages in the Olomouc
region a fortnight after it was introduced.
The lockdown ended on Sunday at midnight following a significant decrease in the number of coronavirus cases registered.
Those who are not in quarantine are once again free to leave the village while observing the given nation-wide restrictions that are still in place.
Trains have once again started stopping in the said villages and people can now travel to work or to buy groceries further afield.
The Central Crisis Staff which is coordinating the fight against the
coronavirus epidemic has launched a so-called “smart quarantine” plan
in the south Moravian region.
The plan envisages tracing past contacts of people who test positive for the virus five days back by creating “maps of their movements” with the help of banks and mobile phone operators.
All those who they came into contact with are to be tested and quarantined until cleared.
The plan is being implemented with the help of the army in order to speed up testing.
If it proves effective in the given region the smart quarantine plan will be implemented nation-wide and will replace blanket restrictions.
The number Czech coronavirus infections stood at 2,837 as of Monday
morning, up less than 10 percent in 24 hours. Among the 5 who died on
Sunday was a nurse who worked at Prague’s Thomayer Hospital, according to
the Ministry of Health.
The nurse is the first medical professional in the country to have died from Covid-19. She worked in a geriatric department where a total of 25 patients and two nurses had contracted the coronavirus.The death toll now stands at 17, with 11 having fully recovered from the disease.
Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka is in quarantine as are others who have
been in close contact with Karel Herbst, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of
Prague, who has tested positive for Covid-19.
Herbst is in intensive care in a Prague hospital, but Duka told Czech Radio that he has responded positively to treatment. Both Catholic clergymen are in their late seventies.
Finance Minister Alena Schillerová (for ANO) will propose a moratorium on
the repayment of mortgages and loans for six months to mitigate the
coronavirus’s economic impact.
Speaking on TV Prima on Sunday, Schillerová said she would formally make the proposal on Wednesday. Opposition leaders have backed the idea, which is in line with what they had suggested.
Schillerová suggested that interest on loans should also be reduced to “some symbolic amount”. She will also propose the government abolish the 4 percent acquisition tax on real estate.