Daily news summary

Minister: Compulsory face masks may end completely in late June

Wearing face masks even in indoor spaces could cease to be obligatory in the Czech Republic at the end of June, says the minister of health, Adam Vojtěch. From Monday it will be no longer required to cover one’s nose and mouth in public unless one is in an enclosed space or in close proximity to others.

Government epidemiologist Rastislav Maďar said that said that requirements regarding face masks could in future be intensified in particular regions of the country depending on the public health situation.

In mid-March the Czech Republic became one of the first countries in Europe to introduce compulsory face masks in a bid to contain the coronavirus pandemic.  

Cabinet to discuss legal move over EU freeze on subsidies for Agrofert

The Czech government will on Monday discuss taking legal action at the European Commission over the freezing of subsidies for the company Agrofert, which was founded by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, iRozhlas.cz reported. The Commission halted a CZK 1.6 billion grant for an Agrofert project after an audit found Mr. Babiš to be in conflict of interest over his ownership of the company.

If the cabinet approves the filing of a lawsuit in Brussels it will be submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in line with standard practice.

Hamáček questions departure of Prymula and retention of Vojtěch at ministry

The minister of the interior and head of the Central Crisis Staff, Jan Hamáček of the Social Democrats, says it would have been fairer of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO to remove Adam Vojtěch as health minister and retain Roman Prymula. Mr. Prymula, who has been one of the leaders of the state’s Covid-19 strategy, is stepping down as deputy minister of health.

In an interview in Saturday’s Právo, Mr. Hamáček said the fact Mr. Prymula was to be made a government commissioner meant ANO were creating a “B government”.

The Social Democrats chairman also said that the coronavirus crisis had strengthened cooperation between him and PM Babiš.

Almost 170 cases of coronavirus linked to Karviná mine

Some 169 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in connection with an outbreak at a mine in Karviná in the Moravian Silesian Region. Most of those infected worked directly in the Darkov mine; the remainder are their family members or maintenance workers at the facility.

As of Saturday evening, the total number of infections registered in the Czech Republic stands at 8,853. There have been 314 deaths with the coronavirus.

Representative: Collapse of Smartwings could cost 60,000 jobs

A representative of the Smartwings Group, which owns Czech Airlines, says its collapse could threaten up to 60,000 jobs. Firm ombudsman Vojtěch Lažanský said an analysis he had produced also indicated commercial flying schools in the Czech Republic could be forced out of business if the indebted company went bust.

Government members have spoken about the possibility of the state buying out Smartwings or providing it with some other form of support. However, opposition politicians and some analysts have criticised the idea, saying it is not a strategic company. Smartwings has around 2,000 employees.

Czech soccer league resumes on Saturday

Czech football’s first division gets back underway on Saturday evening after a two and a half month break. Teplice will welcome Liberec in the first game in the top flight since early March, when the league was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. More matches will follow on Tuesday and Wednesday.

All games will take place behind closed doors and under strict hygiene conditions. The Czech Republic is one of the first states in Europe to see its top level soccer return.

Weather forecast

It should overcast in the Czech Republic on Sunday, with temperatures of up to 16 degrees Celsius. Similar weather is expected over the following week.