The Chamber of Deputies rejected the government's request for extending the state of emergency by another 30 days. It will end on Sunday.
After debating the proposal for seven hours, only 48 MPs from the ANO and ČSSD coalition voted to prolong the state of emergency until mid-March. The cabinet needed at least 54 votes to succeed. It was a sixth such request for an extension in a row - previously, the Communists supported the government.
The vast majority of current anti-epidemic restrictions require the state of emergency to be in place. However, some of them can also be issued in other ways, for example under the Public Health Protection Act.
According to the Minister of Health Jan Blatný (for ANO), without the state of emergency, the epidemic situation will worsen within two weeks and will further affect hospitals. Shops, services, museums, galleries and possibly also swimming pools and gyms will be allowed to open. It also will not be possible to restrict gatherings of people.
Members of the opposition have refused to vote with the government citing for example its unwillingness to discuss measures with them. They also said the cabinet was unable to explain the restrictions to the citizens and that it offers insufficient help for closed or otherwise affected businesses.
According to STAN leader Vít Rakušan, it is necessary to motivate people to follow measures that make sense and can be implemented even without the state of emergency. (We wrote about Czechs' unwillingness to follow anti-epidemic restrictions here.) KDU-ČSL leader Marian Jurečka accused the government of not reacting in any way to the finding that the greatest risk of coronavirus transmission is in the workplace.