Selected social services will start up earlier, government will reward rescuers and social workers for their extraordinary efforts during the epidemic
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will accelerate the scenario for relaxing limitations on social services. On Thursday, 7 May 2020, the government of Andrej Babiš gave its consent to the earlier start-up of selected activities. It also approved the payment of extraordinary remuneration for employees in social services and the emergency medical services. A special interim law for the period of the pandemic and a proposal to defer social security payments will also go to Parliament.
A bill on emergency measures for the epidemic of COVID-19 in 2020, which has been approved by the government and submitted to legislators, aims to clarify the powers of the Ministry of Health to operatively adopt and announce emergency measures aimed at preventing the further spread of Covid-19. The law is to apply only until the end of 2020 and gives the Ministry the option to limit certain activities or services that are risky from an epidemiological point of view where these are not addressed by the Public Health Protection Act, if there is a risk of the uncontrolled spread of the epidemic. Conversely it will be possible to require an activity that will prevent the spread of the disease. Any ministerial order will also have to be approved by the government. At the same time, the government will begin work on an amendment to the Crisis Act and to the Public Health Protection Act.
In view of the very favourable epidemiological situation, the government has agreed to an accelerated scenario for relaxing the limitations on social services, as proposed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. From Monday, 11 April, easy-access facilities for children and young people and social activation services for families with children will be able to start operating. Clients of residential social services, with the exception of senior citizens, will again be allowed to leave their accommodation. Fourteen days later, on 25 May, day care centres, social therapy workshops and other social services should be open for all target groups except those over the age of 50, and visits to social care facilities will again be permitted. The complete plan can be found in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs press release (in Czech language).
The government has also approved special payments for social workers and emergency medical staff, who have often faced up to the consequences of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus epidemic with their own health and their extraordinary commitment. 5.2 billion CZK will be set aside for payments for employees in social services (with the exception of medical staff, to whom special payments cannot be made in the form of a subsidy from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs). These payments will apply both to employees who work directly with clients and those who provide the essential background services. Carers in facilities where Covid-19 has been demonstrated will be able to receive a special payment of up to 40,000 crowns, other employees half of this amount. In facilities that have not directly been affected by the epidemic, all employees will receive the same amount of up to 10,000 crowns. More information in the press release of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in Czech language).
The government has set aside 1.124 billion CZK for paramedics, a further 28 million will go to covering the essential expenses associated with the creation and operation of mobile testing teams. Each one of approximately 7,000 doctors and non-medical staff of the fourteen emergency medical services will receive a one-time payment of 40,000 CZK for each month worked in March, April and May. More in the Ministry of of Health press release (in Czech language).
Ministers have also approved a bill which will make it possible to defer the payment of social security contributions and contributions to the state employment policy paid by employers as taxpayers. This is another way in which the government wants to help companies overcome the crisis period caused by the coronavirus epidemic. If the bill is approved by Parliament, employers should be able to pay contributions for May, June and July on or before 20 October 2020. Instead of the usual penalty, they would pay interest at 4 percent per annum for this delay. More information in the press release of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in Czech language).
The government has also discussed and agreed the National Reform Programme. The document describes, for example, planned investments in infrastructure and steps to fulfil the Innovation Strategy of the Czech Republic 2019 to 2030, and also summarizes the economic measures taken by the government in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. It is prepared annually as part of EU economic policy coordination and sent to the European Commission. The text can be found on our website (in Czech language).
Ministers also discussed a financial gift of 10 million crowns, donated to the Czech Republic by Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech to support the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The government has decided to use the money to reward and support the best projects within the Hack the Crisis Czech Republic hackathon. The CzechInvest agency will be in charge of awarding a special prize for the best-rated participants in the hackathon.