Government Seeks Extension To State of Emergency As Mandatory Testing Expanded To All Companies

On Monday the government expanded mandatory testing to small companies, self-employed people and non-profit organisations and agreed on extra remuneration for healthcare workers. The government will also seek approval from the Chamber of Deputies for an extension of the state of emergency. Photo Credit: Freepik.

Written by Nataliia Sliusarenko, edited for Jobspin.

Czech Rep., Mar 25 (JS) – At a meeting on Monday, the government agreed to request another 30-day extension of the state of emergency. According to the government, the implementation of the most important anti-epidemic measures is not possible without the legal framework of the state of emergency. The proposal will be discussed with the opposition on Wednesday, and will subsequently 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.