Outgoing Czech government to order vaccine mandate for 60+

Czech President Milos Zeman, right, in a transparent cube because he tested positive to COVID-19, appoints ODS leader Petr Fiala, left, as Czech Prime Minister at the Lany manor, near Prague, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. The Czech president has sworn in Pe
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The Associated PressCzech President Milos Zeman, right, in a transparent cube because he tested positive to COVID-19, appoints ODS leader Petr Fiala, left, as Czech Prime Minister at the Lany manor, near Prague, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. The Czech president has sworn in Petr Fiala as the country’s new prime minister following last month’s parliamentary election. Milos Zeman and Fiala, the leader of the coalition that captured most votes in the Oct 8-9 vote were separated by a clear screen during the ceremony at the presidential chateau in Lany, west of Prague, after the president tested positive for the coronavirus and must isolate. (Roman Vondrous/CTK via AP)

PRAGUE — The outgoing Czech government is planning to order a vaccine mandate for people aged 60 and over and for some professional groups, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Friday. But it’s unclear whether the measure will be enforced by his successor.

Vojtech said his ministry will issue the order next week making vaccination mandatory for the 60 plus age group, as well as medical personnel, police officers, firefighters and medical students.

The order would be meant to become effective in March — but it might not work out like that.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ current administration will be soon replaced by a new government formed by five parties that won October’s parliamentary election, led by Prime Minister designate Petr Fiala.

The new government is expected to formally assume its responsibilities later this month. The coalition, and its designated health minister, Vlastimil Valek, oppose a vaccination mandate for the elderly and can cancel it as soon as it takes power.

So far, only 59.6% of people in the nation of 10.7 million have been fully vaccinated. According to the latest poll released on Friday, almost 20% of Czechs are against vaccination.

The country is facing a record surge of coronavirus infections. The new daily increase hit an all-time high of almost 28,000 cases last week. The infection rate was 1,135 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days on Thursday, currently making it one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe.

Fiala was sworn in on Sunday to lead a 18-member government.

Babis, a populist billionaire, and his government formally resigned after the election, but remain in power until the entire new government is appointed.

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