Czech daily news roundup: Monday, December 6, 2021

Hemsworth regrets filming in Prague, Prague Mayor skates as St. Nicholas, new government aims to cut budget deficit. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.12.2021 09:29:00 (updated on 06.12.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

15:15 Slovak Health Minister proposes extending lockdown

Slovak Minister of Health Vladimír Lengvarský has proposed extending the nation's current two-week lockdown for a further week, lasting until at least December 16. Any subsequent loosening of restrictions would primarily affect the unvaccinated and those who have already had Covid. Lengvarský said the situation in Slovakia "remains very serious," arguing the problem with bringing down infection rates lies not in the current measures themselves, but in the compliance of the population with restrictions. The Health Minister said an "intensification of controls" is in order, suggesting a tougher crackdown on those breaking the rules.

14:15 Czech finalists for Eurovision Song Contest announced

Czech Television has revealed the seven finalists in the national round of the Eurovision Song Contest. Voting for the nation's Eurovision representative will be possible from 7 to 15 December, with Annabelle, Elis Mraz, Jordan Haj x Emma Smetana, Giudi, Skywalker, The Valentines and We Are Domi competing to represent the country. Competition songs are being published on digital streaming platforms today, and live versions of the songs will be released on December 7. The winner of the national round will be announced on December 16, decided by an expert panel of judges in tandem with the votes of fans on the official Eurovision Song Contest voting platform. The jury's verdict will carry a 50% share of the total vote, with 25% coming from Czech voters and 25% from voters abroad. The winner will take part in a semifinal in Turin on May 10 or 12, ahead of the final on May 15.

13:40 Record number of Czechs changing energy supplier

Electricity market operator (OTE) registered a record number of energy supplier changes in November, with statistics showing that 161,721 customers changed their electricity suppliers last month. This breaks the previous record for changes set in January 2019, when almost 129,000 people switched supplier. Changes of gas supplier were around three times higher than in previous months. It's thought the reason for the high number of changes was an exodus of customers from so-called "suppliers of last resort" following the bankruptcy of Bohemia Energy in October. Most of the changes of provider were undertaken by single household customers.

13:35 Incoming Transport Minister sets ambitious motorway plans

The candidate to be Minister of Transport in the incoming Czech government, Martin Kupka, said his plans for office include the building of around 40 kilometers of new motorway a year in the years to come. Civic Democrat (ODS) politician Kupka said his other priorities are the preparation and construction of high-speed railways and their connection into the European rail network. Particular road projects mentioned by the incoming minister were the D35 and D3 motorways, as well as the Brno-Vienna road connection and the Prague ring road. Kupka was speaking to journalists after presenting his plans to President Miloš Zeman today.

11:10 Czech Foreign Ministry condemns Aung San Suu Kyi prison sentence

Outgoing Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek has condemned a Myanmar court's verdict sentencing former leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison for incitement to violence and violation of anti-coronavirus measures. Kulhánek said the move is another blow to democracy in Myanmar, where a court issued the first verdicts in a trial of representatives of the government toppled in a military coup in February. Former President Win Myint was also given four years in prison. "The absence of a fair trial is evidence of a complete disregard for the rule of law. The Czech Republic fully stands by Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected representatives," Kulhánek said. More than 1,300 people have died in Myanmar since the coup in February, while it is thought another 7,750 people are being held captive for political reasons.

FILM Hemsworth: 'Extraction 2' shoot shouldn't have moved to Prague

Australian movie star Chris Hemsworth expressed regret that "Extraction 2" is currently being shot in the Czech Republic rather than Australia, as was originally planned. The actor, who is in Prague, said the decision to switch filming to the Czech Republic was made to avoid tough lockdown measures in Australia, but that a surge in Czech Covid cases has made the move a bad decision in hindsight.

“Initially this film was supposed to shoot in Sydney, but it was tricky with the lockdowns and so on, so we made the move to Prague. But yeah, Covid cases are pretty rampant here and so we’re now thinking, you know, maybe it was better to stay [in Australia], but it wasn’t my choice,” Hemsworth said in a TV interview.

Festive fun Prague Mayor opens ice-skating season dressed as St. Nicholas

Today is St. Nicholas’ Day, and last night traditional festive celebrations took place in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic. On St. Nicholas’ Eve, parties dressed up as St. Nicholas (Mikuláš), and his angels and devils pay visits, distribute sweets and (according to parents’ threats, at least) carry away naughty children in a sack.

The festive theme was also in evidence at the opening of an ice rink at Prague’s Ovocný trh. Guest of honor, Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, opened the rink by skating dressed up as St Nicholas, accompanied by a trusty angel, as well as kids dressed up as angels and devils.

Crime Two are dead after tragic shooting in Plzeň

A man was shot and killed in Radějovice na Plzeňku early yesterday evening, and the perpetrator was later found hanged. The tragic incident is believed to have been the result of a family dispute, with the shooter fleeing the scene and taking his own life in nearby woods. Gunfire was reported by people nearby and a police helicopter, as well as dozens of armed officers, attended the scene.

Emergency service workers tried to keep the attacker’s victim alive, but he died as a result of his injuries. A local crime server reported that the shooter used a rifle, claiming the conflict came about following a property dispute between members of the family.

Transfer of power New government aims to cut budget deficit

Zbyňek Stanjura, the candidate for Minister of Finance in the incoming Czech government, said the new regime aims to reduce the state budget deficit by CZK 80 billion. It hopes to achieve this significant reduction through a major overhaul of state finances recommended by the independent National Budget Council.

Stanjura said the current Czech administrative system is overly bureaucratic and costly, and that significant reductions in state overheads can cut the budget deficit even without increasing revenue through raising taxes. The new government is expected to present its economic plans in more detail upon taking office.

History Austerlitz re-enactment stopped by Covid

 The annual re-enactment of the famous Battle of Austerlitz, where 18,000 soldiers died and another 4,000 were injured, has, for the second year running, been canceled due to Covid restrictions. The battle is considered one of Napoleon’s greatest military victories, and took place in Slavkov, Moravia.

Annual commemorations usually draw thousands of people from all over the world to dress up in period military attire and re-enact the conflict. This year, though, all invitations were canceled due to new Covid restrictions, which have limited all cultural and sporting events to a maximum of 1,000 attendees.

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