His political fate seemed sealed when Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told him to resign or be sacked and said he was planning to appoint a new health minister. Babiš delivered his verdict on Prymula and one of his own closest allies, Jaroslav Faltýnek, head of the parliamentary delegation of his Ano party, at a press conference on Friday in response to the restaurant visit.
“We cannot preach water and drink wine. I think the minister should set an example without further delay, ”he said. “For this reason, I asked the minister to resign. If he doesn’t, I’ll fire him. I asked Mr Faltýnek to resign from his post as first vice-president of the Ano movement. I’m so sorry he apologized to everyone for that.
In a brief press conference, however, Prymula said he had no intention of resigning and had not violated any measures since he had not met directly in the restaurant. His comments came after Prague’s city council announced it would launch “administrative proceedings” against him, Faltynek and the restaurant.
Prymula was pictured without a mask – also in violation of the rules – riding in his ministerial car next to an official driver after leaving Rio’s upscale restaurant in the Vyšehrad district of the Czech capital.
“Prymula literally laughs at anyone who disciplined her rules,” Blesk wrote in a companion article.
The damaging images emerged on Thursday, a day after the Czech Republic, with a population of 10.7 million, recorded 15,000 cases of Covid, drawing a rare public apology from Babiš.
All restaurants, bars and pubs have been closed to indoor patrons since last week in a government decree issued under a state of emergency introduced on October 5 and due to expire early next month, but which has not so far failed to stem the rising tide of Covid cases. .
Prymula, 58, a colonel in the Army Reserve, took office last month on a mission to take more difficult action to stop a sharp reversal of the country’s relative success in controlling the first wave of the pandemic, when praised for introducing an early lockdown that included regulations requiring masks to be worn in public places.
He has become famous for his harsh public statements containing calls for the public to stay home and exercise discipline to stop an increase in the number of cases which he says is on the verge of shattering the Czech healthcare system.
The revelations sparked accusations of hypocrisy and demands, including from fellow ministers, for Prymula to step down, prompting Babiš to act.
As of Thursday, there were 14,151 more cases, bringing the total number of active cases to 133,995. Nearly 4,800 people were hospitalized, including 735 in critical condition.
A record 113 Covid-related deaths were recorded on Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to 1,845.