Press Advisories

26. 3. 202016:06

Benefit applicants will not have to go to the office, government proposes. Also approves a subsidy programme for care allowance for the self-employed

On Thursday, 26 March, the government of Andrej Babiš discussed by video conference further measures to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and to help those affected by the pandemic. For example, ministers have approved an exceptional abolition of the obligation to provide the authorities with the documents necessary for benefit payments, as well as financial assistance for foresters and farmers, and funds for the repatriation of Czechs from abroad.

Ministers took note of an exception from the Minister of the Interior, which now deals with effect from 26 March with the issue of cross-border “commuters”. The latter are now divided into different categories according to their border crossing point and the type of work being done abroad. The exact conditions can be found on the Ministry of the Interior website (in Czech language).

The government approved the draft of an Extraordinary Act on Certain Modifications to State Social Support Benefits and Care Contributions in connection with the state of emergency for the epidemic in 2020. The Act should enable the Labour Office of the Czech Republic when setting the value and payment of these benefits for the second calendar quarter of 2020 to base them on the data on income and housing costs which were documented for payment entitlements and the value of these benefits for the first quarter of 2020. These are the payment of child allowance, housing allowance and increased care allowance.

The reason for submitting the proposal is so that hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants at a time of declared quarantine do not have to contact employers and competent authorities and institutions for a confirmation of these values. At the same time, this minimises the burden on the Labour Office of the Czech Republic and the Czech Post Office. The relevant documents must be obtained and submitted by the end of April. The Government will ask Parliament to discuss this proposal in a state of legislative emergency.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has also submitted a simplification of administrative proceedings for non-insurance social benefits. More information in the press release of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in Czech language).

The Government also noted an amendment to the Minister of Health's resolution banning retail sales and the sale of services in business premises. Locksmithing and servicing of other household products, repairs, maintenance and installation of household machinery and equipment, cemetery operators, embalming and preservation services, cremation of human remains in urns, and car washes have now been exempted from the ban. Starting from 27 March, the ban on the sale of accommodation services will not apply to persons in need of accommodation for the purpose of pursuing a professional, business or other similar activity. Full text of the measure on the Ministry of Health website (in Czech language).

The Government also noted the announcement of a programme to support small businesses affected by the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 disease, called Care Allowance for the Self-Employed. By announcing this subsidy programme, the Ministry of Industry and Trade is implementing its plan to support self-employed persons who, due to the extraordinary government measure closing elementary and secondary schools, have had to stop their business in order to care for children. The government has already agreed that the state will pay 424 crowns a day to these entrepreneurs.

The government has also dealt with the issue of disinfectants, the provision of which is a problem as a result of enormous demand. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been entrusted with the centralised purchase of personal hygiene products for hand disinfection. To cope with the situation, the Minister of Industry and Trade has asked the Minister of Health to authorise the supply of the Anti-COVID product to the retail market and at the same time to extend the list of licence holders for this exemption. This will enable other interested parties to be involved in the production of this ethanol-based disinfectant. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has undertaken to supervise the production level, structure and supply quantities of hand disinfectants to the market and, when the market becomes saturated, to inform the Ministry of Health, which will immediately revoke any issued permits.

The Ministers also dealt with the expenditure incurred by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with the necessary repatriation of Czech citizens who, as a result of decisions by certain countries and the overall reduction in international transport availability due to the coronavirus pandemic, have been detained abroad. According to estimates, as of 12 March this affected about 200,000 people. The ministry is also cooperating with other countries on this repatriation, but has nevertheless estimated the costs at 111 million crowns . The government has decided to make these funds available from the government budget reserve.

The government has also addressed an increase in funds to additionally increase the subsidy from the government budget reserve for national additional financing of the Rural Development Programme for 2020. This money is to be used to solve the crisis of entrepreneurs in agriculture, food production and forestry. The main purpose of the measures proposed by the Minister of Agriculture is to ensure food self-sufficiency for the Czech population and to substantially increase production capacity in the food industry. The government has agreed to release 3.3 billion crowns from the government budget reserve for this purpose.

The Government has also approved a request from the Minister of Agriculture to increase funds for an additional increase in the subsidy for the Support and Guarantee Farm and Forestry Fund (PGRLF), for 2020. The strengthening of the PGRLF budget by one billion crowns from the government budget reserve will enable the Fund to, inter alia, postpone repayment of commercial loans, to release or reduce pledges of cash deposits or to agree to postpone repayments of principal on loans granted by the PGRLF. These actions also are intended to provide farmers and foresters in the crisis with more liquid funds to deal with its impact. More on the Ministry of Agriculture website (in Czech language).

The government has also approved the issue of a new Ministry of Defence decree, which will allow the provision of leave to professional soldiers in connection with emergency measures in the epidemic of 2020. Now soldiers will be also able to arrange care for their children where required by the extraordinary government measures. During his official leave, soldiers will be entitled to their salary. More on the Ministry of Defence website.

The government also took note of another emergency measure from the Minister of Health, requiring healthcare providers of acute inpatient care to fill in a hospitalised positive finding record for each coronavirus patient. This record must then be sent to the Infectious Diseases Information System administered by the Ministry of Health. Details in the Ministry of Health press release.

The Ministry also ordered providers of acute inpatient bed care to reserve special facilities within hospitals for the triage of patients, including patients handed over by the ambulance service, in order to identify patients suspected of having COVID-19 or those who clearly have the disease already. Complete information on the Ministry of Health website.

The Ministry of Health also revised again the rules for the provision of spa care. The regulation dated 23 March has been revoked and a new one issued, valid from 25 March, dealing solely with the provision of spa rehabilitation care. Information can be found on the Ministry of Health website (in Czech language).

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