The Czech government faced the threat that parliament may tie its hands in efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreaks, after a key ally in parliament said on Friday it would not support the extension of emergency executive powers.
The Communist Party, which supports Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s minority coalition government, said it had decided to withdraw backing for the powers in response to the government ignoring its calls to reopen schools and ski resorts.
“The government did not take our conditions seriously and decided otherwise,” the party said in a statement.
The state of emergency provides a legal framework for some of the government’s key measures against the coronavirus spread, such as limits on freedom of movement, and deploying the army to help hospitals overstretched by COVID-19 patients.
The Communists said that some of the measures can be implemented by regional governments, while the troops helping in hospitals could go there on a voluntary basis.
If the government fails to find the votes in parliament, the state of emergency will expire on February 14.
Babis said earlier on Friday that expiration of the state of emergency would be a “catastrophe” which could put lives in danger.
Some hospitals have been forced to ship patients to other facilities across the country due to shortages of beds and personnel.
The government has said that no easing of measures can come until pressure on hospitals eases substantially. Measures now include a loosely-policed curfew after 9 p.m. and the closure of nearly all schools, hotels, restaurants, and most shops.
With swift vaccination appearing as the only way to overcome the epidemic, Babis said on Friday that Prague may consider using vaccines not yet registered in the EU.
Many Czechs have grown tired of the government’s measures, and the opposition has called the policies chaotic.
Groups of angered restaurant owners staged demonstrations, and a few opened their restaurants or ski-lifts, while some accommodation providers have circumvented bans on offering holiday stays.