Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Dec. 18, 2020

Czech ski resorts are opening today, PM plays up WHO membership, and the biggest Christmas tree in the Czech Republic revealed.

Tom Lane

Written by Tom Lane Published on 18.12.2020 08:46:00 (updated on 18.12.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

Ski resorts opening across the Czech Republic today

Following a month's delay, Czech season kicks off Friday, Dec. 18. Only a fraction of the some 130 resorts in the Czech Republic from the Beskydy Mountains through Central Bohemia Monínec, to Šumava will open today. Czech police are planning to perform road checks in border areas and also check skiers directly in resorts to screen for foreign visitors. While ski resorts are allowed to open from today, accommodation and catering facilities must remain closed.

Christmas midnight mass will go ahead despite curfew

The Czech government will grant an exemption from the coronavirus curfew to the participation in Christmas midnight masses.

Strict rules have been put in place though, with only a fifth of seats in churches able to be occupied, Health Minister Jan Blatny (for ANO) told reporters yesterday.

He also called on people to use face masks or respirators if they went to a midnight mass.

The Czech Republic moves to the fourth tier of the PES system today meaning new rules are in force. You can read more about them in our dedicated daily COVID update today.

PM Babis: WHO good for the Czech Republic

PM Andrej Babis (ANO) says World Health Organisation (WHO) membership is advantageous for Czechia and there is no reason to leave it.

He was asked about it during parliament question time, having previously criticized the WHO for its approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

In early September, Babis called on the Czech branch of the WHO, which was warning against the plan to drop the practice of tracing of coronavirus patients' contacts, to keep silent.

"It is true that I was critical, but the WHO is definitely an important organization," Babis said.

Bratislava strips Gottwald, Stalin of honorary citizenship

Bratislava City Hall has announced they have stripped honorary citizenship from the first Czechoslovak Communist president Klement Gottwald (1948-1953) and Soviet Communist leader Joseph Stalin after over 70 years.

The City Hall said the conduct of Gottwald and Stalin was incompatible with a decoration in the form of honorary citizenship. Bratislava's honorary citizenship was conferred on Gottwald in 1948 and on Stalin two years before.

Meanwhile, they have approved the honorary citizenship for former Pope John Paul II in memoriam. Previously the title has been given to Czech pop star Karel Gott and former president Vaclav Havel. Read more here.

New website targets COVID misinformation in the Czech Republic

A new website has been launched by Charles University's Faculty of Social Sciences (FSV), Brno University's Medical Faculty and the Newton Media firm to curb the spreading of disinformation about epidemics including the current COVID-19 one. will analyze media coverage of the current pandemic with the aim to uncover journalists' wrong handling of data, wrong use of examples and parallels, and will present bad examples of the media coverage of the issue as well as goods examples for journalists to follow, said the expert team head, Vaclav Moravec.

The project's secondary goal is to enhance the medical and media literacy of the public, which, too, can be viewed as a step preventing the spread of misinformation.

Senators want to ban subsidies for firms with unclear ownership

The Czech Senate wants to ban the provision of subsidies to firms if they had discrepancies in the register of their real owners in a proposed change to the respective law.

They also approved a modification, saying the contracting authority will have to demand the information on real owners from participants in a tender.

Now the Chamber of Deputies will have to assess the Senate-proposed changes to the bill on registration of real owners. MPs rejected these proposals during the November debate on the bill. The full story here.

Could this be Czechia's biggest tree?

A powerplant in Temelín could play host to one of the biggest trees in the Czech Republic this year, and it isn't even a real tree!

One of the three power plants of the ČEZ Group will be festively lit with a Christmas tree design. 

The cooling tower first lit up in 2018 and will be doing so again this weekend. Read more here.

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