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Czech Republic extends state of emergency until May 17, but restrictions could stay longer

Prague, Czech Republic – After much debate, the Czech Republic has finally decided to extend the state of emergency until May 17.

On Tuesday, Czech lawmakers voted in favour of prolonging the state of national emergency declared over the coronavirus pandemic for nearly three more weeks, until May 17.

Although Prime Minister Andrej Babis had previously hinted that there was no reason to extend it beyond April 30, when it was due to run out, his government eventually supported an extension until May 25 to keep restrictions in place after a Prague court ruled the government had implemented a number of restrictive measures unlawfully.

Ahead of the vote, PM Babis had warned that if lawmakers didn’t back an extension of the state of emergency, this would “more or less mean the abolition of all the measures” introduced to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

The government however failed to convince lawmakers to back its plans, and MP’s voted on Tuesday in favour of a shorter extension.

While the state of emergency will likely expire on May 17, this doesn’t mean that restrictive measures will go away overnight

After the vote, Prime Minister Babis said that the government was planning to introduce an amendment to public health legislation, giving extended powers to the Ministry of Health and allowing authorities to maintain a set of restrictions outside of the state of emergency.

This amendment should be presented to Parliament next week.

The Czech Republic first declared a 30-day state of emergency on March 12 to contain the viral outbreak. Lawmakers extended it a first time at the request of the government earlier in April until the end of the month.

It also presented a 5-step plan to ease restrictions and gradually reopen shops and businesses in the coming weeks, with the final phase set for May 25.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.

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