The state of emergency in the Czech Republic was extended until May 17, 2020. What does this mean?
At its meeting held on 28 April 2020, the Chamber of Deputies decided to extend the state of emergency until 17 May 2020.
By Resolution No. 194 (published in the Collection of Laws under No. 69/2020), the Government of the Czech Republic declared a state of emergencyfor the territory of the Czech Republic in connection with the demonstrated occurrence of coronavirus in the Czech Republic, with effect from 12 March 2020 from 2.00 pm for a period of 30 days.
On 9 April 2020, the government issued Resolution No. 396 (published in the Collection of Laws under No. 156/2020), which, with the prior consent of the Chamber of Deputies, extended the state of emergency until 30 April 2020. Based on the declared state of emergency, the government adopted dozens of other resolutions published in the Collection of Laws declaring crisis measures pursuant to the Crisis Act (No. 240/2000 Coll.). A list of these measures can be found here.
As a result of the adopted crisis measures, there has been an unprecedented restriction of fundamental rights and freedoms that modern history does not remember, such as restrictions on free movement in the Czech Republic, a ban on retail sales of goods and services, a ban on travel and entry into the Czech Republic or a ban on personal presence of pupils and students in schools. Having regard to the judgment of the Municipal Court in Prague of 23 April 2020, which annulled extraordinary measures of the Ministry of Health restricting the free movement of persons and retail sale of goods and services on the basis of the Act on the Protection of Public Health, the government now relies solely on measures taken under the Crisis Act. The vast majority of crisis measures currently in force are limited in time to the state of emergency, so the extension of the state of emergency actually prolongs the validity of crisis measures.
With effect from 20 April 2020, the government proceeded to the gradual relaxation of the adopted measures, while effective supervision over regulated release of the measures is conditional on the maintenance of the state of emergency, respectively by extending the time period to which the state of emergency applies. The government therefore submitted a proposal to the Chamber of Deputies to extend the state of emergency until 25 May 2020, when, according to the last government plan presented, most restrictive measures should be then relaxed. The Chamber of Deputies accepted the arguments presented by government officials only partially and decided to extend the state of emergency "only" until May 17, 2020. Nevertheless, the government gained a relatively generous time period in which it can effectively and systematically loosen crisis measures and return the Czech economy and society to standard mode. The coming days and weeks will show to what extent and at what price it will succeed. If the government realizes that it needs a longer period of time to regulate the dismantling of the adopted measures, it will have to appear before the Chamber of Deputies again with a submission.
According to the current decision of the Constitutional Court, the declaration of a state of emergency (and thus logically its extension) is not subject to review by the Constitutional Court. The only insurance is therefore thus the Chamber of Deputies, and it is up to for future consideration to assess the extent to which this constitutional insurance is sufficient, given that in a parliamentary democracy the government usually has a majority in the Chamber. With regard to the position of the Constitutional Court, there is no doubt that if the declaration of a state of emergency and possibly individual government decisions were to be subject to review by the Constitutional Court, it would be necessary to amend the Constitution by explicitly enshrining this review power into the scope of review of the Constitutional Court.