Easy to breath DIY cloth masks might not cut it pretty soon, as Czech officials contemplate making FFP2 respirators and surgical masks the new standard on public transport, medical facilities, and other government buildings. 

This idea comes amidst a broader move to extend and tighten COVID-19 restrictions, following Germany and Austria’s lead. Recently, officials from both countries made respirators and surgical masks mandatory in all shops and public transport in response to the British mutation that is supposed to be more contagious.

Interior Minister Jan Hamáček insists on voting in favour of extending the state of emergency until February 21. 

“We can’t afford to discontinue the state of emergency. If we do, we won’t be able to meet our goal of reducing the pressure on the Czech health care system. Voting against (the extension of the state of emergency) would be a huge blow to the Czech health care system.” 

Hamáček said that on Friday, where the respirators are mandatory to wear, for how long, and other specifics could be debated amongst government officials. According to him, roughly 16 million respirators are waiting in storage in government buildings, and that the Ministry of Industry and Trade is figuring out how to go about distributing them, In theory, however, more than 16 million would be necessary. 

Prime Minister Babiš has expressed concern about controlling the price of the respirators; High demand might mean unfair prices, but government regulation of the price might mean that producers will just export them instead for a bigger profit. 

Chief Hygienist Jarmilla Rážová also called for the necessity of the respirators on Wednesday morning.