PM asks Prymula to resign for violating Covid-19 measures by visiting ‚closed‘ restaurant
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has asked Health Minister Roman Prymula (independent) to resign just weeks into the role for having violated a state of emergency restriction to contain the spread of Covid-19 he advocated for. Babiš said he is looking to replace Prymula quickly and will discuss the matter with President Miloš Zeman on Friday afternoon.
Prymula, an epidemiologist, pushed for stricter measures such as closing schools and restaurants. But he met MP Jaroslav Faltýnek, head of the ruling ANO party’s parliamentary group, in a restaurant on Wednesday evening.
The tabloid newspaper Blesk published corresponding photos, which showed the health minister outside the establishment, not wearing a facemask.
Faltýnek took responsibility for arranging the meeting and apologised, saying on Friday morning that he knew the restaurant’s owner well and put no one at risk. Babiš said on Friday he has asked Faltynek to resign as the first vice-president of the ANO movement due to the incident.
Opposition leaders have called on Prymula to step down, accusing him of arrogance and hypocrisy. Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (Social Democrats) said the health minister had lost all credibility by failing to comply with the government guidelines he advocated and shown contempt for people fight the pandemic on the front lines.
"The rules are valid for everyone without exception (...) the state and coalition government cannot be represented by people who do not respect the measures put in place by that same government," Hamáček told the Czech press agency ČTK.