Czech health minister breaks virus rules, asked to resign

FILE - In this March 15, 2020 file photo, Deputy Minister of Health Roman Prymula addresses a press conference after the government talks on new measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Prague, Czech Republic. Prymula will be the new Czech Health Minister, replacing Adam Vojtech (for ANO), who announced his resignation on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (AP Photo via CTK/Ondrej Deml)

PRAGUE – The Czech Republic’s prime minister called on his health minister to resign or be fired after he broke strict government restrictions to slow a record surge of coronavirus infections and visited a Prague restaurant.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said Friday he will meet with the country’s president later in the day to discuss a possible replacement of the minister, Roman Prymula.

“There’s no other solution than his resignation from the post,” Babis said. “It shouldn’t have happened."

“If we want the people to abide by the rules ... it is us who have to set an example,” Babis said. “We can’t preach water and drink wine.”

The Blesk tabloid daily said Prymula met with Jaroslav Faltynek, deputy head of the senior government ANO, or YES, movement led by Babis in a Prague restaurant on Wednesday night. Photographs published in the paper showed that Prymula also didn’t wear a mandatory face mask.

Restaurants are closed in the Czech Republic because of the pandemic, and it wasn't immediately clear if the establishment was open or if the owner only allowed Prymula and Faltynek in to dine there.

The revelation has shocked the country, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic. At Prymula’s request, the government has approved tight restrictions to slow the surge that is threatening the entire health system.

The junior government coalition party, the Social Democrats, joined the opposition to demand Prymula’s resignation, calling his behavior “absolutely unacceptable.”