Mandatory Testing Extended To All Companies; Government To Request Extension To State of Emergency
On Monday the government agreed to request an extension of the state of emergency, expand mandatory Covid-19 testing to small companies, self-employed people and non-profit organisations, and reward healthcare workers for their extraordinary work during the pandemic. Photo: Press conference after the cabinet meeting on Monday, March 22nd. Credit: Vlada.cz.
Czech Rep., Mar 23 (BD) – At a cabinet meeting on Monday, the government agreed to request an extension of the state of emergency for another 30 days. The government argues that the most important anti-epidemic measures cannot be implemented without the legal framework given by the state of emergency. Negotiations with the opposition will take place on Wednesday, and the proposal will then be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies.
The state of emergency has been in force continuously since October 5th, and is currently due to end on March 28th. If the extension is approved, it will be prolonged by one month, until April 27th. It could also be replaced by measures imposed under the Pandemic Act if the epidemic weakens.
Meanwhile, mandatory testing is to be extended to all workplaces of any size. Mandatory testing of employees is a key element of the government’s efforts to fight the spread of the pandemic, and will now apply to three new categories of workplace: companies with under 10 employees, self-employed people, and non-profit organisations. All these entities are obliged to ensure they start testing by April 6th, as after this date they will not be allowed to enter the workspace without proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Testing is not required for those working from home.
According to Trade and Industry Minister Karel Havlíček, writing on Twitter: “We are already testing almost 4 million workers each week. Today, the government decided to involve companies with 1-9 employees, non-profit organisations and self-employed people, if they are not working from home. The first round should be completed by April 6th. We thank all employers, self-employed people, and employees, they are doing an excellent job.”
Mandatory testing systems were ordered to be put into place by March 12th in companies with more than 250 employees and by March 15th in companies with more than 50 staff. Smaller businesses with 10 to 49 employees should complete the first round of testing by March 26th.
The government has also agreed on a financial bonus for employees of regional hygiene offices, the State Institute of Public Health, the Institute of Public Health in Ústí nad Labem and the Institute of Public Health in Ostrava. They will receive an extra CZK 30,000 for their extraordinary work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, extra funding will be allocated to these organisations to cover the costs of hiring extra staff due to pandemic. The funds will be taken from government budget reserves and unused expenditures of the Ministry of Health.