After the cabinet discussed introducing an obligation to use respirators in public transport or shops, it now considers recommending them.
Following the example of Germany and Austria, the government recently started debating making the use of respirators (instead of face masks or other face coverings) mandatory in certain public places. One of the reasons for this is the new more contagious "British" coronavirus mutation that has also been detected in the Czech Republic.
According to the Minister of Health Jan Blatný (for ANO), the cabinet will probably only strongly recommend citizens to use them. Respirators are costlier than surgical or home-made face masks but are considered to be more effective at protecting the wearer.
Czech respirator makers called on the government to reduce or abolish VAT on protective equipment used against the spread of the coronavirus. Right now, respirators are subject to the highest VAT rate of 21 percent.
The Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček (ČSSD) admitted this option on Friday - but said today that there could possibly be a conflict with EU law if Czechia was to do so. According to him, the solution could be an agreement between the state and retailers that they would sell respirators completely without or with only a minimal margin. Deputy Prime Ministers Karel Havlíček and Alena Schillerová (both for ANO) will discuss respirator prices with retail chains in the following days.