Czech health minister to be removed for breaching coronavirus restrictions

By bne IntelliNews October 23, 2020

Just one month after his appointment, Czech Health Minister Roman Prymula was photographed by the Czech tabloid Blesk leaving a Prague restaurant without a facemask, thus breaching the restrictions introduced by his government to mitigate the surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. 

Prime Minister Andrej Babis asked Prymula to resign, saying that otherwise he would remove him from office. “We can’t preach water and drink wine. I think that the minister should lead by example without further ado,” said Babis, quoted by The Guardian. 

“For that reason, I’ve asked the minister to resign. If he doesn’t, I’ll dismiss him.” 

Prymula arrived at the restaurant at 10 pm, around the closing time set in the emergency measures introduced by the government at the beginning of this week, according to Blesk. He met with the head of the parliamentary delegation of Babis’ ruling ANO party, Jaroslav Faltynek. The meeting was held without the facemasks. The minister was later seen leaving the restaurant facemask-less close to midnight. 

Babis said he had also asked Faltynek to resign as first vice-president of the ANO movement.

However, Prymula announced he will not resign as he did breach any regulations. "I stand here as a person who seems to be preaching water and drinking wine. What is extremely important — it is observance of some symbols, meaning that people who decide on measures should, of course, follow them. Based on the pictures that appeared in Blesk, it looks like I broke rules. I'm seriously saying here that I didn't break anything," the minister at a briefing, where journalists were not allowed to ask questions.

Babis is meeting President Milos Zeman later on October 23 to ask him to accept the removal of Prymula and appoint the new Czech health minister. 

Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib and Prague City Council announced it would open administrative proceedings against Prymula, Faltynek and the restaurant itself.

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