A political standoff is brewing in the Czech Republic where the health minister has refused to resign after pictures were published of him eating in a Prague restaurant closed under COVID-19 regulations.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis Friday called on Health Minister Roman Prymula to resign after the tabloid Blesk published pictures of Prymula leaving a restaurant late at night and entering a car without a face mask. Both acts appear to violate Health Ministry restrictions on restaurants and mask requirements in most places, including chauffeured cars.
But later Friday, Prymula told reporters he did not break any rules and refused to step down. He said he had been invited to the restaurant for meeting with a hospital director and entered the restaurant through a private entrance and wore a mask once he was in his car.
Bars and restaurants in the Czech Republic are closed under current regulations designed to at least slow the spread of the virus. Schools, theaters, cinemas, zoos and many other locations are also closed and professional sports competitions have been stopped.
The health minister said the prime minster does have the option to fire him. Babis was scheduled to meet with Czech President Milos Zeman, who approves ministerial changes, later Friday to discuss the matter.
The controversy comes as the nation is battling the worst resurgence of COVID-19 in Europe. As of Friday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reports over the past two weeks, the Czech Republic has led the continent with 1,148 cases per 100,000 people.