Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Dec. 22, 2020

UK flight ban could last til the end of the year, state of emergency extension put to a vote today, anti-COVID restrictions could go into effect Dec. 25.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 22.12.2020 08:56 (updated on 22.12.2020) Time to read: 3 minutes

UK flight ban may last until end of the year

The Czech Health Ministry said the ban on flights from the UK may last until the end of the year, but could be lifted earlier. "We are still waiting for a recommendation from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on how to proceed," said Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who added that restrictions were introduced temporarily and for a short time only. About 30 returns flights were scheduled between Prague and the UK from Dec. 21 to Dec. 31. A number of other European countries also banned flights from the UK due to a new fast-spreading mutation of coronavirus detected in southern England. As of Sunday, people who arrive from Britain to the Czech Republic must undergo home quarantine. A number of Czech long-haul drivers and citizens are currently stuck in transit from the UK.

Anti-COVID restrictions could tighten by Dec. 25 due to increased risk level

The COVID risk index of the PES anti-epidemic system has remained at 76 points out of 100, corresponding to the highest fifth level for the fifth day in a row, according to data released on the Health Ministry's website Tuesday morning. While the fourth level of the anti-coronavirus restrictions is still valid, under the PES system, if the risk index maintains a higher level for three days measures can be tightened accordingly. The Czech govt. is set to debate new restrictions on Wednesday; should Health Minister Blatný propose a move to the fifth level, the corresponding measures would go into place Friday, Dec. 25. This would mean the closure of all non-essential shops and services. Blatný said no exemptions are planned for the fifth degree. 7,860 new cases were reported in the Czech Republic Monday, some 2,700 more than a week ago. The death toll is currently at 10,562.

Czech govt. to request state of emergency extension today

The Czech government will request a 30-day extension of the state of emergency in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower of house of Czech parliament today. The current state of emergency is valid until Dec. 23; an extension would be valid until Jan. 22. Most government anti-coronavirus restrictions are linked to the emergency state which makes it possible to deploy military to help medical and social services facilities as well. If the lower house does not approve the request, the government cannot put stricter measures into place.

Zeman signs bill into law guaranteeing right to firearm possession

A Czech law newly signed by President Milos Zeman will explicitly guarantee an individual's right to posses a firearm, based on an amendment that introduces new categories of arms due to a disputed EU arms directive. The amended law guarantees "the right to acquire, possess, and carry an arm under conditions." The formulation is a Czech reaction to EU disarmament trends. The law newly enables the use of silencers and night sighting devices, which were previously banned. The length of an arms licence in the Czech Republic remains ten years on the condition that police check once every five years whether an arms holder meets certain conditions, mainly health-related, as determined by the law.

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Czech ski resorts running at 20-30 percent capacity

Some 30 Czech ski resorts started operations Dec. 18, which marked the opening of the new season. According to the Association of Mountain resorts, attendance has ranged between 20-30 percent of the usual capacity. Long queues did not form and visitors complied with the measures.. Resort operator agree that the restrictions set out by the health ministry are being be followed without any major problems. Strict safety and hygiene regulations were implemented for ski resorts this year: skiers cannot stay in the mountains for recreational purposes and refreshments can be sold only through windows. There are 100 large ski resorts in the Czech Republic.

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