Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Dec. 23, 2020

State of emergency extended in the Czech Republic, anti-COVID PES system jumps to 81 points and Czech athlete of the year revealed

Tom Lane

Written by Tom Lane Published on 23.12.2020 08:42 (updated on 23.12.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

State of emergency to continue until at least Jan. 22, tougher measures considered.

The state of emergency in the Czech Republic has been prolonged until at least Jan. 22.

"I don't like it so much, but I can't do anything else," Minister of Health Jan Blatný told deputies. If it hadn't been extended, the state of emergency was due to come to an end today.

Along with the government the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Communists (KSCM) also voted in support of the extension. As a result, 55 out of the 104 MPs present supported the request.

It comes with discussions ongoing about whether to implement tougher anti-COVID restrictions from Friday. Read more here.

PES system jumps to 81 points after increase in positive tests

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This morning it was revealed that the PES anti-epidemic system increased to 81 points out of 100, having been at 76 for the previous five days.

It has corresponded to the highest, fifth level for the sixth day in a row. Should the fifth level be implemented, non-essential stores could be closed meaning only grocery stores, pharmacies and drug stores will remain open.

According to the latest Ministry of Health data, 10,821 new cases were reported in the Czech Republic Monday, some 2,900 more than yesterday and the biggest daily increase since Nov. 9. The death toll is currently at 10,664.

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President Zeman signs 2021 budget bill

Czech President Milos Zeman has signed the 2021 state budget bill with a 320-billion-crown deficit, his spokesman tweeted.

Zeman previously said he expects the budget law to be amended early next year depending on the tax package that the Chamber of Deputies might pass.

The Chamber of Deputies passed the Senate version of the draft tax package that reduces individual income tax by abolishing the super-gross wage and introducing 15 and 23 percent tax rates. It also raises tax credit per individual by 3,000 crowns in 2021 and by the same sum in 2022. See the full story here.

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Vlkova, Praha 3 - Žižkov

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All tickets taken for St Vitus Cathedral Christmas mass service

All of the tickets for this year's Christmas Eve midnight mass service at Prague's St Vitus Cathedral have been claimed.

Only 20 percent of the cathedral's capacity can be filled with people due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Archiepiscopal General Vicar Jan Balik told Czech Radio that 300 people can attend the mass, which was also the number of tickets on offer. Celebrated by Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka, the mass will be live broadcast by TV Prima. Read the full story here.

New Czech-French literature center coming to Prague

The Czech state will buy and repair the Petrkov mansion, in which poet and painter Bohuslav Reynek lived, and turn it into a Czech-French literature and art center of the Czech Literature Museum (PNP), Culture Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronova has told CTK.

Culture Minister Lubomir Zaoralek proposed this and the government approved his proposal on Monday, Lagronova said.

"There are not many important places in the Czech Republic like Petrkov that would influence the 20th-century Czech culture and art so strongly," Zaoralek said.

NHL player named Czech athlete of the year

Ice hockey star David Pastrnak has become the Czech Champion of Sports 2020, ahead of snowboarder and alpine skier Ester Ledecka and speed skater Martina Sablikova, the organisers of the annual poll of sport journalists announced last night.

Pastrnak, 24, has won the poll for the first time. Last year, he was in the third position and in 2018 in the fourth position in the poll. Pastrnak, who has been playing the NHL for Boston Bruins since 2014, was the player who scored the most goals, 44, in the NHL 2019-2020 regular season, along with Alexander Ovechkin.

A hockey player has not been named the Czech champion of sports for 15 years, since 2005 when legendary Jaromir Jagr won the poll.

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