Frustrated with the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Czech government, a group of restaurateurs are attempting to form their own political party.
This past weekend Interior Minister Jan Hamáček took to Twitter to state that pandemic restrictions imposed on the general public do not apply to political parties. This statement prompted many struggling restaurant owners to form a coalition formally known as Chcipl PES.
This loophole would essentially mean political cells being formed inside restaurants and pubs. It is through this political party exemption, that mass gatherings of people would likely occur in the name of political party meetings.
Organizers from the group gave a press conference on Tuesday. Among the group, a spokesman named Jiří Janeček stated, “the measures of this government are not working and impoverishing this country and taking people’s hope.”
The group also says they are frustrated with a government provision called the Covid-Gastro program which currently provides financial assistance only to businesses that are following government rules and restrictions.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Industry and Trade Štěpánka Filipová has restated that businesses that violate government restrictions in regard to Covid-19 will not receive financial compensation. Businesses that do adhere to these restrictions are entitled to a subsidy of 400 CZK per day for each employee.
Janeček feels that the country should open up again and allow businesses to operate normally while the government focuses on protecting vulnerable groups.
The group says they have no aspirations to run in elections, however, there is now a petition circulating in each of the participating restaurants and shops in order to gain enough signatures to become a political party. According to the Ministry of Interior, at least 1000 signatures are required to earn such a designation. No mass events have been planned by the group yet.
Critics of this initiative feel that the group is neglecting to consider that according to recent reports, fully opened restaurants can accelerate the spread of the virus three times faster than say fitness centers.
The National Institute of Public Health states that the British coronavirus mutation has also been confirmed to reach the Czech Republic with cases reported in Prague, Central Bohemia, and the Hradec Králové region.
The PES COVID index has reached 73 points out of 100 in the Czech Republic while the reproduction (R) number increased to 0.83 as of Tuesday. Besides opening of stationary and children’s clothing stores, the government does not currently plan to ease any more restrictions.