PRAGUE, Feb 28 (Reuters) – The Czech government will discuss on Monday whether to introduce compulsory COVID-19 testing at larger companies, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said as the country seeks to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus.
The country of 10.7 million has been among the world’s worst hit by the pandemic in recent weeks in terms of new cases or deaths per capita.
The government announced on Friday strict new restrictions limiting people’s movement over the next three weeks and tightening shop and school closures, but faced criticism from some economists and unions for not imposing restrictions on companies.
Babis said on Sunday that his minority government will discuss whether to require companies with at least 250 employees to test their workers for COVID-19 or face a fine of up to 500,000 crowns ($23,077.63), to be effective from March 5.
Babis did not rule out further penalties.
During the first wave of COVID-19 in the Czech Republic last spring, some companies temporarily closed down, which contributed to a record contraction of the economy in the second quarter.
But the latest wave has led to a higher number of people in a serious condition due to COVID-19 and some hospitals have been forced to transfer patients hundreds of miles away due to a lack of capacity.
Around one in 10 Czechs have been infected by the coronavirus in the past year, and the death toll has risen to 20,339 from about 600 five months ago.
$1 = 21.6660 Czech crowns Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Susan Fenton