Speeches

24. 3. 2020 11:29

Prime Minister’s Address to all citizens

Andrej Babiš Address to all citizens, 23 March 2020.
Andrej Babiš Address to all citizens, 23 March 2020.
In a speech broadcast on 23 March 2020 by Czech Television, TV Nova and FTV Prima, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš thanked all citizens for their understanding and respect for the government's extraordinary measures intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

My dear fellow citizens,

right now we find ourselves in one of the most difficult times in the modern history of our country. Together. All of us. Tomorrow it will be two weeks since we started living in a new, very demanding, exceptional situation. In a state of emergency.

When I look back at the key moments in the history of our country, we have always overcome them with courage, consideration and by helping each other. In spite of all the pain, the suffering and the injustices.

Always through courage!

Our courage was with us in difficult times and strengthened our national self-confidence. Our spirit. Courage, consideration and helping each other: that is what I see today. Today, every day and in everyone that I meet at this time.

And for this I offer you my thanks in all humility. My thanks, to all citizens of our country, the Czech Republic. Citizens in the true sense of that word. Everyone who helps by understanding and respecting the need for our extraordinary measures.

I am truly proud of each and every one of you. Our country has not undergone a test like this over all the years of its existence.

I am well aware that we are making people's lives more complicated. None of us was prepared for anything like this. 

But we're doing very well. And the sooner we stop the coronavirus through our joint efforts, the sooner we can all return to normal life.

I would therefore like to ask all of you for your patience. For your forbearance. The entire world is having to deal with this pandemic of such enormous proportions, and we, like you, are still learning how to respond.

So please forgive us any mistakes or problems along the way. There are many of them. If only there were not. This is a crisis for which no country in Europe was prepared.

Believe me, what I care about most right now is the lives and health of our citizens and the future of our country. We are doing the very best we can with our colleagues and with all institutions of state.

Let me mention them now.

Our Central Crisis Staff is headed up by Professor Roman Prymula. An expert on epidemics. In order to protect the health of our citizens, and as the situation evolves, the government is taking specific measures against the spread of the virus, and is also taking economic measures to prevent people being made redundant and sole traders, businesspeople and companies from going bankrupt. There are hundreds and thousands of these activities, including their coordination at international level.

Of course, as Prime Minister of the country, I take personal responsible for all these crisis measures. And I take on full political responsibility.

The whole government is working non-stop in every possible way, while at the same time trying to keep our citizens as well informed as possible. The people's trust in government, and public awareness, are key to coping with this emergency. Of course, not everyone has all the information and is trying to get it.

But one thing is clear. To everyone by now. We're doing very well. And I have no doubt we will see this through. We will see it through when we all join forces and help each other.

And above all, if we are all considerate towards each other and keep to the new measures. Pointlessly breaching them isn’t fun or some kind of heroism. It will only prolong this absolutely basic complication of the life of the whole country.

These show-offs who are supposed to be in quarantine and instead are having a beer together at the pub door are not really heroes. They are cowards really, unable to discipline themselves. Not even for a few days. Even though they know that this can infect their children, their wife, their elderly parents or grandparents, who are most at risk from the coronavirus.

I really do not understand how they can live with such irresponsibility not only towards their own family but towards the rest of our citizens as well.

That is why I want to call on everyone once more to act responsibly. Let us limit our movements, not seek out social contact and all of us cover our faces in public. This protects all our lives and futures.

We will see this through, don't worry.

We have excellent doctors, medical staff, hygienists, police officers, firemen, soldiers and epidemiologists. All of them are extremely courageous, because in the field they are putting their own lives on the line for the rest of us.

Theirs is incredibly hard and dangerous work because, as you know, we have unfortunately had delays in the delivery of face masks and respirators. These are scarce commodities worldwide and China handles the vast majority of global protective equipment production.

Face masks and respirators have not been available on the global market since the end of January this year. They simply are not available. Some deliveries were even detained in neighbouring countries by the governments of these countries, as each state now hangs on to any stocks it may have of this protective equipment. This is no surprise.

In particular, I would like to thank Minister Hamáček and, of course, President Zeman, thanks to whom we have a regular air bridge of medical supplies from China.

I also want to thank all the women who are busy sewing face masks today. I want to point out that a cloth mask is much better than a disposable one. I recommend always wearing a cloth mask and taking good care of it.

Look at the Ministry of Health’s coronavirus website for instructions on this. And thank you also to those of you who sent a few masks for me as well. I especially liked the one with the Czech flag. Thank you!

So we have hope. Great hope.

We are one of the few countries that did not miss the right moment to put in place strict measures to prevent the unrestrained spread of the disease. We immediately closed schools, shops, borders and imposed a curfew. International comparisons also show that some of the most stringent and earliest measures were in fact introduced by our government.

I would also like to explain again why, even after the quarantine was declared, we let people travel to work and restricted only out-of-work movement. We do not want to stop or paralyse the economic life of the country, because it would mean major complications or the end of their business for companies and sole traders and of course for their employees.

The quarantine is intended to minimise movement and to restrict contact between people to the minimum and thus reduce the risk of further transmission of the infection. Of course, our government will also do its utmost to help those municipalities and towns that are now completely closed due to mass coronavirus infection and who, of course, were not prepared for this.

I would like now to express thanks on behalf of myself and my colleagues.

To all those who are helping and supporting us.

To all our healthcare workers - doctors, nurses, hygienists, epidemiologists; to our police officers, firemen and soldiers.

To all those parents who have to take care of children who are no longer going to school, perhaps teaching them at home.

I thank all our senior citizens. I am thinking of you as you handle what is psychologically an extremely difficult situation. We need you, more than you can know. Children need their grandmothers and grandfathers; old people have life experience that is, and has always been, extremely important to us. 

So grandfathers and grandmothers, you are ours, we need you, do please take care of yourselves.

I also thank our public broadcast media, which were ready and responded to the situation by launching new programmes, by teaching children, and also with an information channel for our senior citizens.

I also thank all other media for helping to maintain calm among our citizens.

I thank all our volunteers. They are the everyday nameless heroes who are selflessly helping others. By sewing masks, helping our senior citizens or perhaps offering coffee to our healthcare workers. 

It all counts.

Our thanks also to companies offering their capacity to fight the coronavirus within their respective fields.

I thank all the lady shop assistants who are now working the hardest shift in their lives.

And I thank all of you who have decided, even if you do not like me or our government, to leave the political fight “until later”. 

Thanks also to our artists and performers who are unable to work and are trying to help, be it through a Facebook concert or by sewing face masks. In whatever way they can.

I have the greatest respect for anyone who has temporarily left his job or home in order to serve the needs of our country and his or her neighbours. In their neighbourhood, or on the Internet, in one of the thousands of volunteer groups.

Seeing this is something incredible.

It warms my heart to see how people all over the country, including those for whom life is no bed of roses and can be very tough, are helping. How everyone is reacting to the situation sensibly and calmly, and at the same time trying as best they can to continue their lives, for themselves and their families, as well as thinking ahead.

We will only stop this coronavirus epidemic if we trust each other. Each of us has now had to change our daily lives significantly.

I know that this is hard. And I believe that we will soon see the effect of all these government measures.

I would like to thank you once again with all my heart for the patience with which you every day took on board more new measures that we as a government had to adopt. I know it wasn't - and isn’t - easy for you and your loved ones. And it is possible that these measures will be in place for longer than we originally thought. I say this quite openly. Because that is how it is.

But please do not worry.

We are in this together and I am here for each of you at any time. We have faced this crisis together and together we will surely see it through. And we will come out of this crisis even stronger and better, both as people and as a nation.

Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister

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