The lower house of the Czech parliament on Thursday extended the country’s state of emergency until February 14, a week less than the government had wanted as it seeks to keep in place measures to tamp down coronavirus infections.
The extension, pushed through with the support of the Communist party, provides the government with a legal basis for some measures such as limits on assembly and movement or temporarily shuttering businesses.
The Czech Republic has been one of the worst-hit globally with 14,973 deaths so far and over 150 deaths most days this month as many hospitals are filled to capacity.
Health Minister Jan Blatny has called on the public to observe limits on social interactions to help break the trend, with the aid of stricter social distancing rules and the closure of most shops that came into force on December 27.
Officials have also said the number of those hospitalized with Covid-19 needs to fall by more than half to below 3,000 patients for the government to consider lifting some restrictions.