The Czech government has officially extended the state of emergency to April 30, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Thursday.
First issued to help tackle the spread of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, the government originally intended to extend the period until mid-May. However, the length of the extension was shortened after the debate was put forward to the Chamber of Deputies.
The Czech government has taken a further step in loosening its measures aimed at containing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, allowing certain non-essential stores to open from Thursday morning provided that they adhere to strict hygienic measures.
DIY retailers, ironmongers and bicycle shops can now sell wares to the wider public. However, visitors are required to keep a 2 meter distance between each other and disinfectants need to be available to them on the spot. Aside from face masks, staff are also required to wear gloves.
A special expert team will discuss further openings of some shops, such as book stores, during the Easter period, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček announced on Wednesday.
The recent removal of the statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev by local Prague 6 authorities does not violate any Czech-Russian treaties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the Czech News Agency on Thursday.
The statement comes after the Russian Embassy in Prague wrote that the move violated bilateral treaties signed between the two countries and Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu proposed those who removed the statue be criminally prosecuted according to a new law against the damaging of public memorials recently passed in Russia. Prague 6 authorities subsequently called on the Czech Foreign Ministry to make a statement.
For years, the statue has been the subject of heated debate, including protests and international disputes between supporters of the Red Army's liberation of the Czech capital and those who are critical of Konev's repressive role within the Communist Eastern Bloc.
As of Thursday morning, 104 people have died after contracting the coronavirus in the Czech Republic, and 243 have been cured from the total of 5,335 that have tested positive for COVID-19.
Wednesday saw a record high amount of 8,164 tests, with total testing rates exceeding 107,000 since the virus first appeared. This means that around 1 percent of the country’s total population has been tested.
Losses to the Czech tourism industry resulting from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic are expected to reach CZK 50 billion by the end of April, but could be as high as CZK 75 billion if tourism associated services are included, data gathered by business and employee associations suggests.
According to these figures, 95 percent of hotels, spas and three quarters of all restaurants in the country are currently closed. Cultural sites and information centres are also closed.
Four associations made up from these affected businesses have proposed a series of measures to counter the damage in a plan sent to the government last week with primary focus given on preserving jobs and the survival of related businesses.
Favipiravir, an antiviral drug, deemed as effective in combating medium cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus after experimental tests in China, will become available to patients in the Czech Republic within a few days, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said on Thursday.
The drug will be imported from Japan, with the Czech Republic being on the list of 20 countries to which the Asian state has agreed to Favipiravir exports. Parts of the supplies will be delivered for free, while others will be purchased.
Once delivered, the drug will be available in Prague’s General Faculty Hospital and some other hospitals across the country.
Medical equipment worth a total of CZK 25 million will be sent to a select number of states including Georgia, Cambodia, Moldova and Ukraine, the Czech government agreed on Thursday, according to Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček’s Twitter account.
The minister said Czech companies and know-how would be used as part of the aid package which seeks to help in the fight against COVID-19.
Friday will see temperatures hover between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius with mostly cloudy skies. No rainfall is expected.