Daily news summary

PM: Life could be back to normal in June

Life in the Czech Republic could return to normal at the end of May or in June, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told the daily Blesk.

He said the coronavirus epidemic was likely to peak at the end of April when the country would have between 10,000 and 15,000 infected.

The prime minister said the Central Crisis Staff was doing everything in its power to keep the epidemic under control and phase it out, saying the data available so far gave him reason to hope this might be possible.

He said the first easing of restrictions could be made after Easter, and appealed on the public for discipline over the Easter holidays.

Government wants to prolong state of emergency until May 11

The government wants to extend the state of emergency in the Czech Republic by another 30 days, until May 11.The extension, recommended by the country’s Central Crisis Staff, has to be approved by the Chamber of Deputies, which is to vote on it next week.

Some parties, including the Pirates and Civic Democrats, expressed reservations about the duration of state of emergency. The Pirates said they would support the proposal only if the government made clear when and under what conditions current protective measures against Covid-19 could be relaxed.

A state of emergency was declared in the Czech Republic on March 12 and remains in effect until April 11.

Number of coronavirus deaths at 40

The number of coronavirus victims in the Czech Republic rose to 40 on Thursday morning, with over 3,600 infected, the Ministry of Health reported.

61 persons have fully recovered from the disease. Over 60,000 people have been tested for the virus.

The majority of those infected are in the 35 to 54 age bracket.

The number of infected among the elderly –ie. people over 65 –is 514. However the death rate in this group is much higher.

EU’s top court: Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary broke EU law over refugee quotas

The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland violated EU law by refusing to take in asylum-seekers at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, the European Union’s top court ruled on Thursday.

By refusing to comply with the provisional and time-limited mechanism for the mandatory relocation of applicants for international protection, the three countries failed to fulfil their obligations under EU law, the court ruled.

The court said the three member states had no right to cite safeguarding internal security or claim that the relocation program was dysfunctional, in refusing to comply.

The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice dealt with the case on the grounds of a complaint by the European Commission.

Shops with household goods re-open on Thursday

As of Thursday, shops with household goods, which offer protective equipment, can open again in the Czech Republic. The exception was approved by the government on Wednesday evening. It is another exemption from the closure of all shops in the country, which is to remain in effect until April 11.

The exeption includes grocery stores, pharmacies, drugstores and petrol stations. Other shops exempted from the closure include consumer electronics, florists, newspapers, magazines and tobacco products, and also pet shops and glasses shops. Banks and post offices are also untouched by the ban.

Fuel prices dropping steeply

Fuel prices in the Czech Republic continue to drop. The price of the best-selling petrol, Natural 95 dropped on average by 93 hallers to 27.90 crowns per litre in the past week, the lowest price since April 2016. At some petrol stations it is selling for 23 crowns per litre.

The price of diesel dropped by 64 hallers to 27.96 crowns per litre, according to data from CCS, which monitors fuel prices. According to analysts fuel will continue to decrease in the Czech Republic.

Weather forecast

Friday should be clear to partly cloudy with rain in places and day temperatures between 7 and 1 degrees Celsius.