1 Financial Support Measures
1.1 Interest-free state loans and guarantees
- Following the first three credit and guarantee initiatives COVID I, II and COVID Prague designed for the small and medium sized enterprises, the Ministry of Industry and Trade ("MoIT") and the Czech-Moravian Guarantee and Development Bank ("CMGDB") have launched a COVID III guarantee.
- The COVID III guarantee is intended for commercial working capital, investment and acquisition loans provided by certain banks It is aimed at larger companies with up to 500 employees and up to CZK 50m of the loan principal (guarantee of up to 90 % of the principal and up to CZK 45m for companies with less than 250 employees and 80 % of the principal and up to CZK 40m for companies with 250 to 500 employees). The borrower must not be in arrears with the repayment of the debt to the lending bank for more than 30 days as at 31/03/2020. The commercial loans with COVID III guarantees are planned to reach up to CZK 500bln and are also available for entrepreneurs located in Prague. The government extended the COVID III programme on 18/11 until the end of June 2021.
- The MoIT has launched a new financial support program – COVID Uncovered costs. The purpose of this initiative is to help entrepreneurs to cover their losses caused by the pandemic by way of covering a part of their uncovered fixed costs. The condition for obtaining support from this program is a decline in the company’s turnover in January and February 2021 by at least 50% when compared to the same period in 2019 or 2020. A proof of accounting loss must be submitted to support the claim. The support is capped at 60 % of uncovered costs, up to a maximum of CZK 40,000,000 (approx. EUR 1.54 mil.). Applications can be submitted from 19/04 to 19/07.
- Together with the above-mentioned COVID related measures, businesses may also apply for a guarantee for a standard product offered by the CMGDB.
1.2 Guarantees by the Export and Guarantee Insurance Company ("EGAP") COVID Plus – 29/04 2020
- Amendment to the Act on Insurance and Financing of Exports with State Support
- EGAP provides extraordinary guarantee program COVID Plus for working capital and investment loans in support of negatively affected export-oriented companies. As of 25 January 2021, COVID Plus also applies to the companies operating in tourism, transportation and accommodation. For a company to qualify, it has to have at least B- rating. The rating scale used by EGAP corresponds to the rating of S&P and Fitch. The total amount of provided guarantees should be CZK 142bln for 2020 only. The application for commercial banks has been launched 05/05 2020 via EGAP online interface.
- Commercial banks acting as lenders and EGAP providing guarantees of up to 90% (B rating or better) or 80 % (B- rating) of the principal of such loans. The guarantees are intended for companies with > 250 employees and at least one-fifth of sales coming from exports, whereas production for another exporter can also be included in this fifth. The maximum amount of the loan is 25 % of the total annual revenue, between CZK 5m to CZK 2bln.
- The guarantee is available for a maximum of six years for both working capital loans and investment loans, whereas the interest rates of commercial loans is capped at 1.5 to 3.5% p.a. depending on the maturity period.
1.3 Amendment to the Consumer Credit Act – 24/04 2020
- Maximum penalties for late repayments of loans of self-employed persons were introduced.
- In case of delay longer than 90 days, the amount of the contractual penalty must not exceed 0.1 % of the amount due per day.
- The sum of all contractual penalties must not exceed half of the principal.
1.4 Voluntary suspension of loan instalments by the banks
- Banks introduced loan freeze programs up to six months for their clients (also including mortgages and leases) where the debtor's inability to pay is directly correlated to the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure comes in response to the recommendation of the Czech Banking Association and to the press release of the Czech National Bank (both non-binding)
- "Antivirus" Employment Protection Programme: Compensation of employers through the Labour Office in the form of a contribution for partial wage compensation. The contribution will be provided in two schemes:
- Scheme A: closure or restraints of business operation as a result of emergency measures or quarantine ordered by the relevant public authority (the contribution in Scheme A will be increased from 80 % to 100 % of the wage compensation paid (including social and health insurance contributions) up to a maximum compensation of CZK 50,000 (approx. EUR 2,000) per employee per month (except for the cases of the employee's quarantine, where the contribution remains 80 %);
- Scheme B: obstacles to work on the employer´s side in relation with COVID-19 outbreak – the contribution in Scheme B is 60 % of the wage compensation paid (including social and health insurance contributions) up to a maximum compensation of CZK 29,000 (approx. EUR 1,160) per employee per month.
- Applications for reimbursement can be submitted electronically from 06/04. More details on the "Antivirus" programme (in Czech) are published on: https://www.mpsv.cz/documents/20142/1443715/Manual_Program_Antivirus_v6.pdf
- The duration of the "Antivirus" programme was originally determined for a period from 12 March to 30 April. The Czech Government repeatedly decided to prolong the Programme, and currently it is extended until the end of April 2021.
- Mandatory testing of employees
- Employers with at least 250 employees – The employer must arrange testing as of 3 March 2021 (antigen tests by a healthcare provider or so-called "self-testing" by a non-professional) at least once a week. Employees must be called for testing at the latest as of 5 March, and the first round of testing must be completed by 12 March. At the latest as of 12 March, only employees who have a negative test can enter the workplace.
- Employers with 50 – 249 employees – The employer must arrange testing as of 5 March 2021 (antigen tests by a healthcare provider or so-called "self-testing" by a non-professional) at least once a week. Employees must be called for testing at the latest as of 8 March, and the first round of testing must be completed by 15 March. At the latest as of 15 March, only employees who have a negative test can enter the workplace.
Employees who exclusively work from home do not need to be tested.
- Obligation to provide employees with respiratory protective equipment
As of 1 March 2021, the employer shall provide the employee with respiratory protective equipment (nose, mouth), i.e. a respirator or similar device (always without an exhalation valve) meeting at least all technical conditions and requirements (for the product), including a filtration efficiency of at least 94 % according to the relevant standards (e.g. FFP2, CN 95), a medical face mask or similar device meeting at least all the technical conditions and requirements (for the product) of the ČSN EN 14683 + AC standard, which prevent the spread of droplets, in sufficient numbers for each shift.
- Contribution for quarantined employees
For the period from 1 March 2021 until 30 April 2021, the employer shall provide quarantined employees (including employees who are already diagnosed with COVID-19) with a contribution up to CZK 370 per day (approx. EUR 14.80, calculated from the amount of the wage) for a period of 14 calendar days. The contribution is provided in addition to the standard wage compensation during the quarantine. The employer may subsequently deduct the contribution from the compulsory payment of social security premiums and contributions to the state employment policy.
3 Real Estate
3.1 Governmental support to tenants (operational programme "COVID – rent") – third call
- Tenants of commercial premises may ask the state to pay 50 % of the rent.
- To draw the support the respective tenant must have been banned from selling goods and services in the establishment by extraordinary measures of the government against the spread of COVID-19 or it must have recorded a year-on-year slump in sales of at least 50 % in Q4 2020.
- The tenant must also have a lease agreement that was concluded before 1 October 2020, provide proof of payment of at least 50 % of the rent for October, November and December 2020, and proof of payment of the usual amount of rent for at least two consecutive months from 1 July 2019 to 30 September 2020.
- This support will apply only to base (fix) rents and not to turnover rents.
- Before a tenant gets 50% refunded, it will have to pay to landlords first at least 50 % of the rent for October, November and December 2020 and some other payments.
- The "COVID – rent" support programme is also available to tenants affiliated with the landlord, such as entities with the same beneficial owner and intragroup leases.
- Tenants will not be able to simultaneously draw other support for rental expenses. Tenants will be able to draw the support for rent payable in October, November and December 2020 up to a maximum of CZK 10m (approx. EUR 365,000). The support granted in previous calls of the COVID - rent programme does not add up. However, the applicant must not exceed a support limit stipulated by the EC Temporary Framework.
- The total amount of approved support for all tenants is CZK 3bln (approx. EUR 115m).
- The applications may be submitted electronically via www.mpo.cz starting from 5 February 2021 to 8 April 2021.
3.2 Prohibition of Commercial Lease Termination
- The Czech Parliament has passed a new act prohibiting landlords from terminating commercial leases if tenants fail to pay rent.
- The act deals with rent falling due between 12/03 and 30/06.
- Landlords would not be able to terminate any commercial leases until 31/12 solely on the grounds of the tenant's delay in payment of rent becoming due in the above period.
- The obligation of tenants to pay the rent and service charges remains unaffected. If the rent or service charges are not paid when they become due, the tenant may still be obliged to pay the landlord default interest, contractual penalties and damages.
- See more details here
3.3 Prohibition of Residential Lease Termination
- The Czech Parliament has also passed a similar act prohibiting landlords from terminating residential leases if tenants fail to pay rent.
- The act deals with rent falling due between 12/03 and 31/07.
- Landlords would not be able to terminate any commercial leases up to 31/12 solely on the grounds of the tenant's delay in payment of rent becoming due in the above period
4 Tax Duties
4.1 Income tax return
- The income tax return of individuals and legal persons can be submitted until 01/06, i.e. three months later.
- Penalties for late tax return of all taxes can be individually waived in cases where coronavirus-related reasons are proven.
- Due to the difficult social or economic situation (caused, among others, by the COVID19 epidemic), the taxpayer may ask the tax administrator for a push back in payment or for a payment in instalments, without the risk of an administrative fee.
4.2 Electronic registration of sales (EET)
- Suspension of the obligation to electronically register sales for a period of emergency and following three months.
4.3 Social and health insurance
- Waiver of minimum deposits for social and health insurance to sole traders for six months (March to August).
4.4 Direct financial support for self-employed individuals (in Czech "OSVČ")
- The Ministry of Finance and the Tax Authority introduced a direct support program for those self-employed who are economically affected by the spread of coronavirus. The program will be administered by the Tax Authority aiming to distribute the available funds already in April. Self-employed individuals will be entitled to a nominal amount of CZK 25,000 after fulfilling certain conditions, such as 10% drop of turnover for the past three months compared to the same period last year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, i.e. until 31/12 at the most, the following shall apply.
5.1 Decisions of corporate bodies / meetings
- Any corporate body may adopt a decision in writing outside the meeting (i.e. per rollam) or by using technical means even if this is not set out in the company's constitutional document.
5.2 Automatic extension of member of elected corporate body
- The term of office of any member of an elected corporate body will be automatically extended upon its expiry by three additional months (starting on the day after the end of the extraordinary pandemic measures), unless the office holder disagrees. This extension will apply even if the term of office expires one month after the end of the extraordinary pandemic measures.
- Furthermore, the term of office of a member of an elected corporate body which expired between the adoption of the extraordinary pandemic measures (i.e. 12/03) and the effectiveness of LEX COVID will be restored and automatically extended until the lapse of three months following the end of the extraordinary pandemic measures if the member delivers their consent to the restoration of their office to the respective company and no new member has been elected instead.
5.3 Co-optation of substitute members of elected corporate body
- A co-optation of substitute members (i.e. election of substitute members by other members of the same corporate body) will be allowed if the number of members of the respective corporate body does not decrease below half, even if not set out in a constitutional document of the respective company.
5.4 Deadline for decision on annual financial statements
- A deadline for a decision on the annual financial statements of a limited liability company, a joint-stock company or a cooperative, ending less than three months after the end of the extraordinary pandemic measures, will be automatically extended in order to end three months after the end of the extraordinary pandemic measures, but in any case no later than 31/12.
(see also our Competition Law CEE overview)
6.1 Czech Competition Authority's binding statement related to the second COVID-19 wave
- The Czech Competition Authority (CCA) announced in a binding statement how it will deal with requests to assess intended cooperation between competitors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The CCA recognises the necessity of cooperation between competitors in order to secure certain types of goods or services due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Society’s interest in such cooperation, which would normally be considered anti-competitive, may, for a limited period of time, outweigh its interest in protecting a liberal market environment.
- The agreements under which such cooperation will take place will not be considered prohibited agreements within the meaning of Article 101 TFEU (and the national equivalent), only upon condition that they restrict competition as little as possible, enabling their intended objective to be ensured.
- The CCA also noted that where the object or effect of the cooperation between competitors is to distort competition, such cooperation is exempted from the cartel prohibition only if it (i) improves the production or distribution of goods or promotes technical or economic development while at the same time reserving a fair share of the benefits for consumers, (ii) refrains from imposing restrictions on competitors which are not necessary to achieve its objectives, (iii) does not enable competitors to eliminate competition in a substantial part of the market for the goods whose supply or purchase is the subject of the cooperation.
- The CCA is willing to consult whether the envisaged cooperation is indeed necessary to ensure the goods and services affected by the COVID-19 crisis. In that regard, the CCA also provides clear guidance on the content of such cooperation assessment requests. Moreover, the CCA warns that its binding statement should neither be interpreted as a block exemption nor as applicable to one-sided (abusive) behaviour of undertakings.
6.2 Access to administrative file, hearings and meetings
- Access to the administrative file will be granted electronically subject to explicit consent of the relevant party. Confidential information will not be made available for inspection at all. Should such information be needed by the CCA as evidence, the CCA will not issue a decision in such cases for the time being (i.e. until all parties will be able to inspect confidential information in person again).
6.3 Hearings and meetings
- The CCA asked parties to communicate primarily via e-mail, phone or post.
- Court hearings are being postponed except for urgent cases.
6.4 State aid
The European Commission approved:
- aid in the form of direct grants to gastronomy and closed establishments to ensure that sufficient liquidity remains available in the market. The estimated budget of the measure is CZK 6 billion (approx. EUR 230 million). Aid may be granted until no later than 30 June 2021.
- aid in the form of direct grants to self-employed persons and to partners in small limited liability companies. The aid will be granted under two similar measures covering two different periods of the pandemic:
(a) Measure 1: Compensation bonus applicable during the “first wave” of the COVID-19 outbreak, i.e. between 12 March 2020 and 8 June 2020; estimated budget is CZK 22 billion (ca. EUR 847 131 0005); may be granted until no later than 31 December 2021.
(b) Measure 2: Compensation bonus applicable during the “second wave” of the COVID-19 outbreak, i.e. from 5 October 2020 until the end of the state of emergency in Czech Republic on 11 April 2021; estimated budget is CZK 10.4 billion (ca. EUR 400 462 072); may be granted until no later than 31 December 2021.
- aid in the form of direct grants to operators of ski resorts which had to be closed as from 27 December 2020, pursuant to a resolution of the Czech government. The estimated budget of the measure is CZK 1 billion (approximately EUR 38.5 million). Aid may be granted until no later than 30 June 2021.
- aid in the form of direct grants to tour operators that suffer a lack of income and insufficient liquidity due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In particular, the aim of the measure is to support the largest tour operators selling package tours in Czechia. The estimated budget of the measure is CZK 75 million (approx. EUR 2.9 million). Aid may be granted until no later than 30 June 2021.
- aid in the form of direct grants to undertakings, irrespective of their size, that provide services related to exhibitions, fairs, conferences and business events. The estimated budget of the measure is CZK 600 000 000 (approximately EUR 22.8 million). Aid may be granted until no later than 31 December 2021.
- a targeted employment program (Antivirus Plus) and a wage subsidy scheme in the form of direct grants for undertakings who employ personnel and who were prohibited or substantially restricted by the Czech Government, the Ministry of Health or other State institutions for protection of public health in carrying out their economic activities during the period of the COVID-19 outbreak and who were negatively affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The total estimated budget of the measures is CZK 29.8 billion (approximately EUR 1.1 billion). Aid may be granted until no later than 30 June 2021. For details, please see Section 3 above.
- aid in the form of direct grants to enterprises of all sizes in Czechia, which are (a) food producers in accordance with Act No. 110/1997 Coll. on foodstuffs and tobacco products, as amended, whose activity is the production and marketing of food intended for catering service operators; (b) agricultural undertakings in accordance with Act No. 252/1997 Coll. on agriculture, as amended, whose activity is the marketing of their own products of agricultural production and food intended for food service operators AND which experienced a decrease in total income from the sale of food of at least 25 %, as compared to the same period in the previous year. The estimated budget of the measure is EUR 110 million (approximately CZK 3 billion). The aid amounts will be up to CZK 200 000 per business (approximately EUR 7 500) and up to CZK 20 000 per co-worker or employee (approximately EUR 750). Aid may be granted until no later than 31 December 2021.
- aid in the form of direct grants to specific professional sport leagues in Czechia and undertakings organizing or co-organising sport events which have been cancelled and which were scheduled to take place between 12 March 2020 and 31 July 2020. The budget of the measure is CZK 530 million (EUR 20.7 million). Aid may be granted until no later than 30 June 2021.
- aid to undertakings which are organising, facilitating or providing cultural events or are carrying out continuous activities in the cultural sector in Czechia and were prevented from doing so due to COVID-19 measures (referred to as COVID culture II) with a total estimated budget of CZK 750 million (approx. EUR 28.4 million). It applies to cultural events, individual projects and continuous cultural activities that were to be held in the period between 10 March 2020 to 31 December 2020. State aid in the form of direct grants can replace up to 50% of eligible costs for cultural events that have been restricted, cancelled or moved as a result of the pandemic, or up to 80% of costs for ongoing cultural activities such as theatres, music clubs, cultural centres, etc. Aid may be granted until 30 June 2021.
- aid for self-employed persons in the form of: (i) payment advantages regarding pension and State employment policy contributions, (ii) waiver of penalties related to late filing of annual statements and late payments of pension and State employment policy contributions, (iii) deferral of monthly pre-payments of pension and State employment policy contributions. The beneficiaries of the measure are self-employed persons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak with an activity in the Czech Republic and who are included in the mandatory social insurance system based on that activity in the Czech Republic. Aid may be granted until 30 June 2021.
- employment aid in the form of direct grants with an estimated budget of CZK 260 million (approx. EUR 97 million) to all enterprises. The aim of the measure is to provide support to projects relating to (i) employee training, (ii) childcare facilities, rent for childcare facilities and upskilling of caregivers and (iii) wage subventions for jobs created for disadvantaged people and for employers who employ unemployed people in line with the objectives of the “Operational Programme Employment 2014-2020” (OPE 2014-2020). Aid may be granted until 30 June 2021.
- aid in the form of direct grants with a budget of CZK 3.31 billion (EUR 126.7 million) for legal entities or natural persons operating accommodation facilities in the Czech Republic on the basis of a trade licence for accommodation services or, on the condition (in both cases) that they were tax residents in the Czech Republic as of 14 March 2020 and/or in the EU/EEA for legal entities. Aid may be granted until 30 June 2021.
- aid to health and rehabilitation spas (irrespective of their size) with a total budget of CZK 1 billion (approx. EUR 36.3 million). The aid comes in the form of direct payments to cover discounts of CZK 4000 (approx. EUR 157) offered to clients. The aid will be granted until 30 June 2021.
- aid for self-employed persons in the form of: (i) deferral of the obligation to file the annual report for 2020 and the subsequent payment for the annual contribution to the public health insurance; (ii) waiver of penalties for the late- or non-payment related to the monthly public health insurance premiums for the period; (iii) waiver of the health insurance contributions not exceeding the level of minimum prepayments; (iv) deferral of the prepayments of public health insurance premiums. Aid may be granted until 30 June 2021.
- aid in the form of direct grants to certain undertakings leasing or renting premises, which will amount to 50% of the original rent or lease due for the months of July-December 2020. Grants will be allowed up to a maximum of CZK 10 million (approx. EUR 368 663) per beneficiary. The budget of the measure is CZK 3 billion (approx. EUR 110.5 million). The aid will be granted until no later than 30 June 2021.
- a guarantee program of approximately EUR 18.5 billion (CZK 500 billion) to support the provision of loans to companies with up to 500 employees affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. For details, please see above in Section 1.
- an aid scheme based on direct grants to support research and development (R&D) activities related to the coronavirus outbreak, making available a total of CZK 200 million (approx. EUR 7.7 million). The grants will be accessible to all Czech companies from all sectors, which are capable of carrying out relevant R&D projects. Aid may be granted until no later than 30 June 2021.
- COVID Technology measure, aimed at containing COVID-19 through the acquisition of new technological equipment and business activities focused on the production of medical devices, making available a total of CZK 300m (approx. EUR 11.5m) from the Operational Program Enterprise and Innovation for Competitiveness (OPPIK) in subsidies for SMEs available. The budget may be increased to up to CZK 1bln (approx. EUR 37m). Aid may be granted until no later than 30 June 2021.
7 Courts and Authorities
7.1 Criminal Courts
7.1.1 Procedural law / deadlines
- Pending deadlines are not stopped automatically but may be extended upon request, but deadlines may be restored within three days after the termination of the relevant extraordinary measure.
7.2 Court hearings
- Some oral hearings may be postponed on the court's initiative or at the request.
- Necessary court hearing (e.g. custodial hearing) must take place and it is not possible to postpone them.
7.3 Civil Courts
7.3.1 Procedural law / deadlines
- If the deadline was missed due to measures taken in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be postponed by the court under certain conditions.
- Enforcements by sale of movable/immovable assets – suspended until 30/06 (with certain exceptions);
- Enforcements by deductions from a bank account of a debtor – up to the amount of 4x the debtor's life minimum are suspended until the end of 2020;
- Auctions of a real property – minimum amount of debt increased from CZK 30,000 to CZK 100,000;
- Pending deadlines are not stopped automatically at all but may be extended at the request.
7.3.2 Court hearings
- Most oral hearings were postponed either based on the court's initiative or at the request of parties.
7.4 Administrative Courts
7.4.1 Procedural rules /deadlines
- If the deadline was missed due to measures taken in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be postponed by the court under certain conditions.
- Pending deadlines are not stopped automatically but may be postponed upon request.
- Some oral hearings may be postponed on the authority’s initiative or at the request.
- On 12 April 2021, the state of emergency ended.
- As of March 1, respirators FFP2/KN95 or higher are obligatory indoor, in public transport, in public spaces in the city/town and in public spaces outside the city/town where a distance of more than 2m cannot be kept.
- Closure of shops with a few exceptions, such as those selling groceries, electronics, fuel, drugs, cosmetics, animal products, glasses, tobacco products, newspapers, etc.
- Closure of premises for provision of services with a few exceptions, particularly for laundries, locksmith's, home device repair, carwashes, funeral homes, etc.
- Closure of restaurants, cafés and bars, except for take-away food and beverages
- Closure of schools with the exception of children in the first to fifth years of study. Testing for covid-19 is mandatory on Mondays and Thursdays.
- Prohibition of concerts, operas, musicals and other artistic performances where the performers sing. Theatrical film and other artistic performances are prohibited as well.
8.2 Medicinal products / Medicaments
- Regulation of prescriptions of the pharmaceutical Plaquenil.
- Export of all medicines abroad is forbidden.
Kindly note that the summaries on this page are for information purposes only and do not take into account the specifics of a certain situation. The information is not designed to substitute and cannot substitute legal advice tailored to your needs. It is made available strictly on a non-reliance basis. Also, some of the addressed topics might be subject to short-term changes.