Prague, Czech Republic – Former Czech President Vaclav Klaus has faced criticism for visiting a restaurant in Prague and breaking COVID-19 restrictions.
Ex-President Klaus justifies “civil disobedience” act in restaurant visit
Earlier this week, Czech tabloid Blesk published pictures of Vaclav Klaus entering, without wearing a mask, a restaurant in Prague and spending one hour inside.
All bars and restaurants are currently closed in the Czech Republic as part of the government’s measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Customers are only allowed to order take-away food through windows.
Describing Klaus as “our loyal customer”, the restaurant claimed he had only brought food with him in a box and entered to use the toilets. Klaus, who served as Czech Prime Minister (1992-1998) and President (2003-2013), admitted to breaking COVID-19 restrictions, but appeared unremorseful, dismissing criticism and refusing to apologize for his actions.
“I don’t think it has a bad effect on the public”, he said in a statement published on his blog. “It is up to each person to behave as they see fit”. Describing it as “a form of civil disobedience”, he instead criticized other Czech politicians “who broke their own rules”, emphasizing that contrary to them, he had been “criticizing those rules from the beginning”.
“In a free country, one should have the right to go wherever one wants. We must not accept existing and constantly extended orders and prohibitions,” he added.
An outspoken critic of COVID-19 restrictions
Although Klaus, 79, is now a somewhat marginal figure in Czech politics, the former head of state remains a divisive figure, and regularly makes the headlines for controversial and inflammatory remarks.
Notoriously opposed to the obligation to wear face-masks and COVID vaccines, Vaclav Klaus had already received a fine late last year for appearing in public without a mask. He also attended last Sunday’s protest in Prague and addressed thousands of demonstrators who took to the street to oppose current COVID-19 restrictions.
Other Czech politicians have been caught in the act of violating the government’s own pandemic restrictions – including former Health Minister Roman Prymula, who was forced to step down after Blesk published pictures of him going into a restaurant that should have been closed.