“The Czech state is ready to pay at least a third of the rent to companies and entrepreneurs who had to close their businesses from March 12 (when the state of emergency was declared), to the end of June. One-third of the rent should be paid by the tenant, one third by the landlord and one third by the state,” said Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to the iDNES.cz server.
The government should discuss the details of this new proposal next week, but no later than May 11.
“We are doing our best to help companies. We will extend the kurzarbeit program and come up with a proposal to postpone social security payments,” added Babiš.
If the state participates in paying the rent for a third, it would cost about 3 billion CZK. “We can help shopping centers, thousands of pubs, small shops, and hairdressers, whose landlords agree to forgive a third of the rent,” said Babiš.
Previously, the Czech government agreed to allow companies to defer payments for social security and health insurance for the months of May, June, and July.
It’s a move designed to allow companies to concentrate their available cash on covering their wage bill that many managers said would be more useful than the complicated process of applying for low-interest loans from the state.
From May 11, ninth-graders students will return to school, cinemas, and theaters, can reopen. Minister of Health added that there will be strict rules for visitors, such as a safe distance between them.
Sports and cultural events (up to 100 people) will be able to take place again. The rule will also applies to weddings and church services.
Since March, the coronavirus has been confirmed in 7,740 cases. To date, 3,378 people have recovered from Covid-19, while 241 patients have died.
Despite an increase in the amount of testing, the graph depicting the increase in transmissions is going down from 11 percent to around 5 percent.
According to the Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch (ANO), this means that the Czech Republic has managed to stop the uncontrolled spread of the COVID-19.
“We managed to stop the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 and we can prepare for a return to normal life in the coming weeks. We are not in the same situation as Italy, Spain, USA or the United Kingdom. The situation is developing very well,” Vojtech said.
Ladislav Dušek, director of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS), confirmed the data. “We have increased the testing capacity. It is a clear signal that something is happening in the population and that the spread has stopped.”
The reproductive number (R0) of the virus has also decreased, ie the number of people able to infect one person with the disease. It started at 2.64 and now fell to 1.1. The Ministry of Health expects it to decrease to 1.02.
R0 tells the average number of people who will catch a disease from one contagious person. If a disease has an R0 of 5, a person who has the disease will transmit it to an average of 5 other people, as long as no one has been vaccinated against it or is already immune to it in their community.
- If R0 is less than 1, each existing infection causes less than one new infection. In this case, the disease will decline and eventually die out.
- If R0 equals 1, each existing infection causes one new infection. The disease will stay alive and stable, but there won’t be an outbreak or an epidemic.
- If R0 is more than 1, each existing infection causes more than one new infection. The disease will spread between people, and there may be an outbreak or epidemic.
“It does not mean eliminating the virus, but that one person can infect on average one another,” added Dušek. According to him, it is important “to continue to know the behavior of the virus.”
Original projections saw 14,200 infections in the Czech Republic by the end of April, now it has been revised to 10,600.
The Czech Republic had 5,033 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection as of midnight. So far 181 people have recovered from the COVID-19 illness and 91 people have died.
Leading Czech political figures consider Thursday’s EU Court of Justice verdict regarding migrant quotas “irrelevant”.
The court concluded that the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary failed to fulfill their obligations under EU law after refusing to accept a portion of the 160,000 migrants the EU was looking to distribute among member states following the 2015 migrant crisis.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš considers it essential that the Czech Republic will not be obliged to accept any asylum seekers in the EU, and that the quota system has expired in the meantime. According to him, it is irrelevant that the three Visegrad countries did not win the court case.
“We lost the dispute, but that is not important. What is important is that we do not have to pay something. Usually, the court claims some compensation for the proceedings,” said Babiš.
“The point is that we will not accept any migrants and that the quotas have expired in the meantime, especially thanks to us,” added the prime minister.
Also, according to Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, the ECJ’s ruling is not significant since the situation has changed.
“The court’s decision responds to events that happened a few years ago. I’m taking the verdict into account but without any further consequences,” Hamáček said.
Marian Jurečka, leader of the People’s Party (KDU-ČSL), stressed that the court did not take into account other measures the Czech Republic contributed to help solve the migration crisis. For example, the country was active supporting refugee camps and offered military aid in the fight against ISIS.
“The Czech Republic definitely tried show solidarity and help resolve the situation, while not endangering its own security,” Jurečka added.
Alexandr Vondra, vice chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS), also commented on the symbolism of the ECJ’s verdict and the absurdity of quotas.
“We have always argued that the quota system for redistributing migrants is wrong. The EU also withdrew from it, which is something the ECJ’s rulings cannot change. With the verdict, the EU just wants to save face, but I see no way how to put the ruling into practice,” Vondra said
A European Commission audit confirmed the billionaire Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest over alleged ties to his business empire.
The European Commission said on Friday it had sent the audit results to the Czech authorities but said the contents were confidential as the audit procedure was ongoing.
Companies in the Agrofert group, the core of Babiš’s assets estimated at $3.5 billion by Forbes, are some of the largest recipients of EU subsidies, both for farming and for investment projects, in the central European country.
They are run by two trust funds since 2017, an arrangement Babis made to meet local law on conflict of interest.
The final version of the report confirmed preliminary findings disclosed in May, in which the European Union‘s executive arm declared that Andrej Babis has maintained ties to businesses he founded while influencing decisions that could have affected EU subsidies they would have received.
Babiš has repeatedly rejected conflict-of-interest allegations, saying he complied with the law by placing his chemical, agriculture and media conglomerate Agrofert in trusts before taking power in 2017.
The Czech Ministry of Local Development said Sunday the report is classified and the process isn’t finished. Czech authorities will have two months to send their response and comments on the audit, the ministry said in a statement.
Babiš has vowed to contest any conflict-of-interest allegations and argued that Czech legal opinion differs from the preliminary findings of the EU’s audit. He has also said the country won’t have to return any subsidies.
A spokesman for the Czech Regional Development Ministry, which is in charge of handling the audit, said that the report had been received.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Tuesday that he would withdraw the nomination of Michal Smarda and propose a new Cultural Minister to President Milos Zeman immediately after the coalition Social Democratic Party has the new name, according to local media reports.
Zeman previously said Smarda is not competent for the post of cultural minister. On Monday, Smarda decided to give up the nomination.
Babiš said he had asked President Zeman to quickly solve the problem concerning the nomination of Culture Minister so that the cabinet could be complete and functional.
Communication preceding the proposal of the new candidate must be better than it was in the case of Smarda, Babiš added.
The dispute over the replacement of the Culture Minister has been lasting for more than three months in the country.
In April, former cultural minister Antonin Stanek dismissed National Gallery head Jiri Fajt and Olomouc Art Museum head Michal Soukup, triggering criticism from cultural fields. In May, Babis proposed that Stanek be dismissed and Smarda as his successor.
Zeman was reluctant to dismiss Stanek at first but eventually did so at the end of July without accepting the nomination of Smarda.