Czech Republic


Authors:

Aleš Eppinger, partner, Schaffer & Partner Legal
Contact: Aleš Eppinger, partner, eppinger@schaffer-partner.cz (LinkedInProfile)


Štěpán Holub, partner, Holubová advokáti s.r.o. - stepan.holub@holubova.cz - http://www.holubova.cz

Klára Dvořáková, partner, Holubová advokáti s.r.o. - klara.dvorakova@holubova.cz - http://www.holubova.cz


Overview of legal measures as of July 14th, 2020 as response to the coronavirus.

Please note: Due to the extraordinary situation, the legislation is in continuous evolution and may change very fast.


1. INTERVENTIONS AND RESTRICTIONS

1.1 Legal basis

The current restrictions on border crossing and movement of persons have been imposed by means of governmental crisis regulation acts, namely:

  • Government Resolution No. 443, No. 193/2020 Coll.

  • Government Resolution No. 452, No. 194/2020 Coll.

  • Government Resolution No. 453, No. 195/2020 Coll.

  • Government Resolution No. 454, No. 196/2020 Coll.

1.2 Border

Since 20.04.2020, there has been liberation of conditions for border crossing. It is now possible for Czech citizens to travel abroad for any reason. This also applies to holders of permits for a stay of more than 90 days (long-term visa, long-term residence, permanent residence – hereinafter referred to as “Residing foreigners”).

On the other hand, holders of short-term visas will not be allowed to re-entry until the end of the current state of emergency. However, they are allowed to remain on the territory of the Czech Republic even after their permit validity has expired. Therefore, they are advised to consider their potential departure from the Czech Republic very carefully.

During their return to the Czech Republic, all persons must present themselves with a negative COVID-19 test, otherwise they will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

EU citizens, as well as their family members, are only allowed to enter provided that they have a residence permit for the Czech Republic (in this case, the so-called “Certificate of temporary residence for an EU citizen” and “temporary residence permit for a family member of an EU citizen), or, if they can prove that they have already been residing in the Czech Republic before 12.03.2020.

The current regulation has a number of exceptions, allowing access especially to professionals in a field related to the current pandemic (medical workers, scientists), or to persons whose stay is in the interest of the Czech Republic. For example, on April 24th, a number of Korean specialist have been admitted to the Czech Republic to help set in motion the production of a new Hyundai automobile.

There are also exceptions for EU citizens who wish to conduct business activity in the Czech Republic.

Subsequently, the Czech Republic introduced the so called traffic light scheme which came into effect from June 15th. This scheme divides countries into three groups with respect to the risk of the spread of COVID-19, and is available at the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (https://www.mzv.cz/jnp/cz/udalosti_a_media/tiskove_zpravy/x2020_04_25_rozcestnik_informaci_k_cestovani.html). Under this scheme, every country is classified under green, orange or red colour. The countries marked green can be entered without any restriction. After the return from a country marked orange, the traveller must place them themselves in mandatory quarantine or must provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19. Travel is not permitted to all countries marked red. The traffic light scheme does not reflect the requirements of the visited countries, only those set by the Czech Republic. The colour of individual country is continuously changing according to the current epidemiologic situation in that country.

As the tourism sector is one of the most impacted by the pandemic, new temporary legislations have been introduced. The most frequently discussed legislation is Act No. 185/2020 Coll., called lex voucher. According to lex voucher, the tour operators can issue a voucher to the customer instead of immediate return of the paid funds. According to lex voucher, if the customer does not buy a new package until August 31, 2021, the tour operator must exchange the voucher for a cash refund. As this measure largely supports the outgoing tourism sector, discussions are now on to determine on how to support domestic tourism. The VAT for some tourist services such as accommodation or cultural events should be lowered to 10%. Further, the government has agreed to issue vouchers for payment for the stay and procedures in spas up to a maximum amount of 4.000 CZK per employee.

Business entities in tourism can further take advantage of other supportive programmes such as the “Antivirus”, under which the state covers a certain part of the employer’s staff costs, or “Covid-Rental”, where the state partly covers the cost of renting the business premises.

On June 9th, 2020 the Government has adopted a Crisis plan for the management of tourism in 2020-2021. The text is available here: https://forumcr.cz/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/FCR_krizovy-akcni-plan-cr-cr-2020-2021.pdf


1.3 Visas

As of 12.03.2020, all procedures for residence permits and visas to the Czech Republic were put on hold. In particular:

  • Procedures on the issue of short-term Schengen visas are terminated

  • Procedures on the issue of long-term visas / residence permits for a stay of over 90 days of permanent residence, filed from abroad have been suspended.

  • The intake of new applications has been suspended.

For all foreigners residing on the territory of the Czech Republic, their residence is considered to be legal even if their current permit expires. All procedures on applications filed in the Czech Republic, such as extension of existing permits, change of permit type, “upgrades” from a temporary residence to a permanent residence, are still ongoing and such applications may continue to be filed.

In effect, this regulation means that the legal position of foreigners already residing in the Czech Republic is not adversely affected.

However, foreigners wishing to obtain a Czech residence permit or a visa must wait until the current regulation is changed. This is essentially a reflection of the current policy of “closed borders”.

1.4 Export control

In accordance with the Implementing Regulation of the EU No. 2020/568 export of some personal medical protection goods is conditioned by an export permit.

The export of medical supplies in general from the Czech Republic is forbidden. The export of medical supplies on a list issued by the Health Ministry is permitted, provided the exporters report their export to the National Institute for Control of Medications.

1.5 Prohibition of crowds

It is not allowed to convene in groups of more than 10 people, excluding situations such as work/business or funeral.

As of May 11th, 2020 cultural and social events (such as concerts, theatre, circus etc.) as well as sport events with not more than 100 participants are allowed to take place.

1.6 Lockdown

Apart from restrictions such as the obligatory wearing of face masks and minimal physical distancing rules of 2 metres, there is generally no lockdown in effect and it is possible to move freely throughout the country.

1.7 Open Businesses, Industries and allowed Gatherings

Restaurants and shopping malls are closed until late May. Sporting, cultural and similar events with large expected turnout are cancelled.

As of May 11th, 2020, the shops in shopping malls and other commercial premises with surface larger than 2500 m2, restaurants with pick-up/take-away windows and outside seating, hairdressers and barber shops will be re-opened.

As of May 23th, 2020, also inner space of restaurants, hotels, camping sites and taxi services will be allowed.

1.8 Shareholder's meetings and other meetings of companies

The shareholder may take decision remotely (outside the shareholders’ meeting) even if the articles of association do not allow it. The shareholder may vote remotely, i.e. also with technical means (via email etc.). The specific way how the shareholders take decisions remotely will be determined by the executives of companies.

The term of the companies’ officers (members of its bodies) is prolonged until 3 months after the exceptional measures in connection with the epidemic will be cancelled.

1.9 Supply of essential medical goods

The export of medical supplies in general from the Czech Republic is forbidden. The export of medical supplies on a list issued by the Health Ministry is permitted, provided the exporters report their export to the National Institute for Control of Medications.

The medication PLAQUENIL is prohibited from being prescribed, apart from listed cases. This medication is used usually against malaria. However; it might be used probably also for treating COVID-19.

1.10 Health care

Patient visits

Healthcare providers are obliged to act in accordance with the following rules related to the admission of the patient’s family or other persons visiting the patient:

- the presence of a maximum of two persons may be allowed at the same time; exceptions may be allowed for reasons worthy of special consideration, e.g. when the visiting person needs support,

- each person visiting the patient is asked about the symptoms of COVID-19, e.g. in the form of a questionnaire,

- if the visitor shows a positive symptom corresponding to the disease, his presence near the patient cannot be allowed,

- if possible, visits shall take place in the outdoor areas of the facility (garden, common terrace, etc.), or in single rooms or a room set aside for this purpose,

- after each visit, the areas shall be disinfected with a virucidal agent,

These restrictions do not apply to the presence of the patient’s family, or other persons visiting the patient in case the patient is in the terminal stage of an incurable disease,

Triage and reporting of COVID-19 positive patients

All healthcare providers that provide acute care are obliged-

- to allocate bed capacity for patients with COVID-19, including the provision of the necessary staff, and the provision of adequate safety conditions;

- to set aside a space for sorting (triage) of all patients entering the medical facility, including patients referred by the emergency medical service,

- to develop a methodology for the identification of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 symptoms, as well as rules for the provision of health care to these patients,

- to set aside premises in the medical facility that will be intended for the provision of health care to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19,

- to set up a dispatch centre for personal protective equipment

- to complete and send an "In-patient COVID-19 Positive" report to the Infectious Disease Information System (ISIN) by 10:00 a.m. each day,

- to report within one hour of the occurrence of a patient with COVID-19, who is in severe condition or whose medical condition requires the use of respiratory support, or whose medical condition requires the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO),

- to report within one hour of the occurrence that the medical condition of a patient with COVID-19 has changed to a severe condition, or is newly required to use respiratory support, or requires the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO);


Wearing of respiratory protective equipment

All persons:

- in inpatient care facilities of health care providers,

- in social services facilities, which are weekly hospitals, homes for the disabled, homes for the elderly and homes with a special regime,

- providing relief social services in residential form,

must wear respiratory protective equipment (nose, mouth) to prevent the spread of droplets, with the exception of:

- patients and users of social services,

- children under two years of age,

- persons with a disorder of the intellect, cognitive disorder or severe alteration of the mental state, whose mental abilities or current mental state do not allow compliance with this obligation,

- health professionals for the time strictly necessary, if it is necessary for the provision of health services,

- employees and persons in a similar position, if they are at a distance of at least 1.5 meters from another person at the workplace,

- other cases of consideration to be determined by the health or social service provider or the attending physician.

Reporting of intensive care capacities

All healthcare providers that provide acute care are further obliged-

- to report to the Ministry of Health for each medical facility, all changes in the availability of intensive care facilities, for the purpose of monitoring and managing the current state of intensive care capacities in relation to COVID-19 care,

- to report to the Ministry of Health for each medical facility, all changes in the number of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals, who are quarantined due to suspicion or evidence of COVID-19;

Informing employers about contact with a COVID-19 positive person

All healthcare workers, if they find that they have been in direct contact with a COVID-19 positive person without adequate personal protective equipment, are obliged to immediately inform their employer – the healthcare provider.

If the performance of the work by the healthcare worker is not necessary to ensure the provision of health care services by this provider, then the health care provider shall inform the locally competent public health authority, which shall order quarantine to the healthcare worker.

Healthcare workers whose work is essential for the provision of healthcare services, and who do not have clinical signs of COVID-19, shall ensure the work conditions of such workers under strict epidemiologic measures, and shall notify the local public health authority.

Designation of beds for COVID-19 positive patients

Regional governors and the mayor of the capital city of Prague have been ordered to designate at least 10 beds (or more if required by the current epidemiological situation) per 100,000 inhabitants of the region or the capital city of Prague, to patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and to ensure that these premises are clearly marked.


Criteria for ending quarantine

All general practitioners are ordered to end quarantine for persons who have been quarantined due to their contact with a person with COVID-19, provided the following clinical and laboratory criteria are met:

a) 14 days have lapsed since the first day of the ordered quarantine,

b) there are no clinical signs of COVID-19, the person is afebrile (temperature <37.0 ° C), and without COVID-19 symptoms,

c) a negative PCR test.

COVID-19 diagnostic sampling points and testing

All regions and the capital city of Prague have been ordered to ensure the coordination of activities of public health authorities, ambulance service providers, and healthcare providers in testing for COVID-19.

Public health authorities are ordered to create a COVID-19 test request form, and to provide these forms on the basis of telephone contact with persons with symptoms of COVID-19 and to persons without these symptoms but who have been in risky contact with a person who has a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.

Public health authorities have also been ordered to send persons with symptoms of COVID-19, and persons without these symptoms who have been in risky contact with a person who has a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, to a COVID-19 diagnostic sampling point for testing.

Reporting numbers of samples examined

All COVID-19 diagnostic sampling points and mobile sampling teams are instructed to carry out sampling on the basis of issued request forms, and to hand over the collected samples to persons operating laboratories that provide testing for COVID-19.

All COVID-19 diagnostic sampling points are instructed to continuously, and at least twice a day, record the number of samples taken, and to inform about their capacity via the COVID Forms App web application (https://crt-covid-19-forms.army.cz).

Laboratories are instructed to continuously, and at least twice a day, record the current number of requests for testing of samples via the COVID Forms App web application (https://crt-covid-19-forms.army.cz).

Laboratories are further ordered to record the number of samples tested on the previous day and the number of positive results.

Handling of waste

The State Institute of Public Health orders adherence to the following hygienic procedures when handling waste-

- households with quarantined persons or proven diseases should not sort waste,

- households with persons in quarantine or a proven disease must properly secure the waste to prevent it from being mixed with other waste in a container, to protect against the potential spread of the disease by contact with the waste,

- when handling waste, persons should pay attention to increased hand hygiene, and

- transport of material to collection yards is not possible under the current circumstances.

Covid-19 test price

With effect from 15 May 2020, the Ministry of Health has set the maximum price of 1,756 CZK for the COVID-19 test for all self-payers and administrative authorities.


1.11 Persons with a higher risk

See the section 1.10 Health care above.


1.12 Sanctions

Failure to comply with the obligation the wear a face mask or similar obligation, they can be sanctioned by a fine up to CZK 20,000.

A breach of quarantine can result in a fine up to CZK 3,000,000.

Spreading of an infectious disease (which is also COVID-19) can constitute either in deliberate or negligent form a criminal act and can result in a prison sentence up to 15 years, the worst case being if the perpetrator causes dead of multiple persons.

2. SUPPORT OF BUSINESSES

2.1 Legal basis

Currently, all of the measures are based on de-facto measures of the government.

2.2 Support measures

Covid I, Covid II and Covid Prague programmes


During March and April, the state subsidy programmes COVID I, COVID II and COVID Prague have been implemented. They aimed at small and medium-sized businesses as well as sole traders, who were forced to restrict or put on hold their business activity due to a measures against the spread of COVID-19.

The applicants to COVID I programme received a credit from the government, while other programmes provided state guarantee for commercial credit. Subsidized by the state was also the payment of interest on said loans.

The capacity of each programme was always very quickly exhausted. This was met with a largely negative reaction on

Currently, the programme COVID III is being planned, the capacity of which should amount to approx. CZK 600,000,000,000. Around 120,000 applications could be supported (during the previous programmes, not more than a thousand applications have been approved).

Further conditions of the programme should be available at the end of April or early May.

3. SUPPORT OF THE JOBMARKET

3.1 Legal basis

Governmental regulation No. 353 as of March 31st, 2020 called “Antivirus”.

3.2 Support measures

Within the Antivirus program employers affected by the coronavirus crises may apply for a state subsidy to finance their employees’ salaries. The Employment office will pay 60-80% of the salary depending on the situation and circumstances. This regulation and program has been adopted to cover (partly) salary costs and to prevent thereby layoffs and increase of unemployment rate.

When the employer wishes to apply for the subsidy he/she is not allowed to give notice to the employee whose salary should be compensated by the subsidy.

This program is valid as of March 12 until the end of May 2020. The online application for the subsidy is to be addressed to the relevant Employment office that is also responsible for the payment of the subsidy.

There are 2 categories of employers authorised to apply for the subsidy.

First category includes employers forced to shut down or restrict the operation of their businesses with respect to the state of emergency. The employers whose employees are isolated in quarantine also fall into this category.

These employers may apply for subsidy amounting to 80% of the compensation of salary paid to the employee. The maximum amount of the monthly subsidy per employee is CZK 39,000.

The second category includes employers who are not able to assign work to their employees because of the lack of input material, services or key employees or the sales decrease.

In this case the subsidy amount to 60 % of the salary paid to the employee and the maximum amount of the monthly subsidy per employee is CZK 29,000.

4. SUPPORT OF SPECIFIC SECTORS

4.1 Legal basis

The statutory law has not been adopted yet. However; the government has already announced the details of the drafted act.

4.2 Support measures

In order to boost the real estate market, the government will abolish the tax for acquisition of a real estate for everyone and in every case. The main aim it to make housing for families and other persons form affordable. Additional regulation will also help to prevent speculative purchases of real estate which should stop the enormous increase of real estate prices we have seen in the past years

Currently, the tax amounts to 4% of the purchase price of the real estate. The statutory law will be retroactive and as a consequence everyone who bought a real estate since December 2019 will pay no real estate transfer tax. On the other hand the purchaser who used a mortgage to finance the real estate will be no longer allowed to deduct the interests from taxable amount (tax base).

Further when the owner sells its real estate which is not being used for his/her housing needs the seller pays the income tax from the purchase price unless he/she has owned the real estate for more than 5 years. According the government this “time test” will be prolonged up to 10 years for real estate acquired after January 1st, 2021 to prevent speculative purchases of real estates.


5. TENANCY AND LEASE

  • Act No. 210/2020 Coll., on some measures to mitigate consequences of the coronavirus epidemic SARS CoV-2 for tenants of commercial premises

  • Act No. 209/2020 Coll., on some measures to mitigate consequences of the coronavirus epidemic SARS CoV-2 for the tenants of residential premises

  • Governmental regulation No. 202/2020 Coll., stating the price moratorium for the lease of residential premises


5.2 Measures

  • The landlord is not allowed to give notice to quit for the reason of rent arrears, if the tenant uses the premises for commercial and business purposes. The tenant is obliged to pay the outstanding rent until the end of 2020.

  • The landlord is not allowed to give notice to quit for the reason of rent arrears, if the tenant uses the premises as residential. The tenant is obliged to pay the outstanding rent until the end of 2020.

  • It is not allowed to increase the rent for apartments until the exceptional measures in connection with the epidemic will be cancelled.

6. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

6.1 Legal basis

  • Act No. 191/2020 Coll., on some measures to mitigate consequences of the coronavirus epidemic SARS CoV-2 for parties to the court proceedings

6.2 Measures

  • A party to the proceedings which has missed a deadline due to restrictions following from the measures in connection with the epidemic may apply for a relief of the missed deadline. This de facto deadline prolongation concern civil proceedings, as well as administrative court proceedings, criminal enforcement and insolvency proceedings.

  • The company and its representative are not obliged to file insolvency petition until 6 months after the exceptional measures in connection with the epidemic will be cancelled, however until the end of 2020 at the latest. The insolvency has to be established after the measures taken in connection with the epidemic or to be result of the circumstances connected with the exceptional measures against the epidemic.

  • The court will not decide on any insolvency petition filed by creditors until August 31st, 2020.

  • The fulfilment of the reorganisation plan may be postponed upon request of the debtor.

7. DEBT COLLECTION

7.1 Legal basis

  • Act No. 177/2020 Coll. on some measures regarding the repayment of credits in connection with the pandemic COVID-19

  • Act No. 191/2020 Coll., on some measures to mitigate consequences of the coronavirus epidemic SARS CoV-2 for parties to the court proceedings

7.2 Measures

  • Moratorium regarding loans and credits for debtors upon their individual request. Moratorium period lasts until October 31st, 2020 or July 31st, 2020 – depending on the debtor’s request. The due date of instalments is postponed after the moratorium period. This moratorium applies only to credits and loans which have been concluded before March 23th, 2020 and were overdue on this date not more than 30 days.

  • The sale of movable assets or real estate (in case the debtor has its permanent residence in it) within the enforcement proceeding is suspended until June 30th, 2020.

  • Should the debtor prove that the restrictions resulting from the exceptional measures against the epidemic have hindered him to play the money debt in due time, the creditor is entitled to require the sanction for the delay only until the amount set by the statutory law for delay interest. This applies only for contract and agreements concluded before April 24th, 2020 and if the delay occurred after March 12th, 2020.


8. MISCELLANEOUS

8.1 Legal basis

  • Act No. 159/2020 Coll. on the compensation bonus in regards to the crisis measures adopted in regards to the spread of the coronavirus SARS.

8.2 Measures

Support for self employed workers

Self-employed workers whose business activities were negatively affected by the restrictive preventive measures of the government are entitled to a compensation bonus under the programme called “Twenty-five”.

Apart from being an active self-employed worker, whose main source of income is the self-employed economic activity, the petitioner had to be limited in his economic activity in the form of

  • partial of full closure of their business,

  • quarantine of the petitioner or their employee,

  • care for their child or an obstacle in the work of their employee in the form of care for the employee’s child,

  • reduced demand for their goods or services,

  • reduced or non-existent supply of goods or services necessary for their economic activity.

The petitioners are entitled to a bonus in the amount up to CZK 25,000, depending on for how long their economic activity was limited.


Data Protection

No special coronavirus data protection measures are in force as of June 8th, 2020, and all data processing is ruled primarily by the “normal” existing legislations. The most important legal regulations are the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Act No. 258/2000 Coll., on the protection of public health.

Public health authorities are allowed to collect and process the personal data in accordance with Art. 9 par. 2 lett. i) of the GDPR, if such processing is necessary for reasons of public interest in the area of public health, such as protecting against serious cross-border threats to health. Public health authorities were allowed to trace infected persons during the state of emergency, and are also allowed to ask the telecommunications operators for personal data regarding location. The data subjects must be informed about such processing.

There are many questions with respect to whether employers, service providers, schools, and other entities are allowed to perform or mandate persons to undergo a temperature test.

From the above entities, only the employers are allowed to measure the temperature of their employees in order to ensure safety and health at work. Home office and long-distance communication is preferred, but it is not mandatory.