Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Dec. 25, 2020

Share of positive tests hits record high; more stranded Czechs return; protesting restaurateurs serve carp soup

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 25.12.2020 10:58 (updated on 25.12.2020) Reading time: 5 minutes

Record high share of Czech test positive for coronavirus

The proportion of the Czechs who tested positive for coronavirus with the use of the PCR tests reached the record high of almost 43 percent, the biggest figure since the start of the epidemic, according to the data the Health Ministry released today.

However, the laboratories only made around 10,000 tests, roughly one-quarter of the number from Wednesday. There were another 4,363 coronavirus cases on Christmas Eve. The number of the hospitalized fell by about 500 to 4,455.

Since the March outbreak, there have been 664,863 infection cases and almost 558,000 recoveries. Currently, there are 96,308 infected, with 634 hospitalized in a serious condition. There were another 83 deaths, while the overall COVID death toll has reached 10,859.

On the other hand, the reproduction number, giving the average number of infected from one positively tested person, fell to 1.22 from 1.34.

The proportion of positive PCR tests surged in the past days. On Monday, it stood at 27 percent, on Tuesday at 30 percent and on Wednesday at almost 36 percent, which hit the record high. The seven-day average is roughly 31 percent.

The national score of the PES index has been corresponding with the strictest, fifth degree of alert since Dec. 18. The PES index remains at 81. However, the Czech Republic still goes by the lockdown rules of the fourth degree. It will adopt the fifth degree on Dec. 27. The government says it will remain so at least until Jan. 10.

The PES index is on the fifth level in all regions except Prague. The situation is the worst in the Moravia-Silesia region with 89 points on the 0-100 scale. The index fell in seven regions, most in the Pardubice Region where the score declined from 85 to 76.

More Czechs returning home from Britain

The situation improved and some Czechs who had been stuck in Britain due to the closed border with France were able to get home for Christmas Eve.

The first Czech trucks and buses with students of the Erasmus program were already in France and Germany and other Czechs are gradually undergoing coronavirus tests in Britain before their return home, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (ČSSD) tweeted on Dec. 24.

The Czech Republic, similar to other European countries, halted the flights from Britain on Monday due to the new coronavirus strain there. However, since Wednesday noon, Czechs have been able to return from Britain to the Czech Republic by air. Passengers have to present a negative antigen or PCR test before boarding the plane.

The national air carrier Czech Airlines (ČSA) dispatched a special flight from London to Prague that landed in Prague at 10:48 pm on Wednesday night. After the arrival, the passengers from Britain must stay in home quarantine and they can undergo the second test in five days.

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Petitioners for restaurant reopening served fish soup in Prague

The authors of the call for opening restaurants, which were closed in the Czech Republic within the anti-coronavirus measures, were offering the traditional Christmas fish soup along with their petition for lockdown lifting on Old Town Square in Prague center on Dec. 24.

The homeless as well as passers-by and tourists, who originally came to the square to see the giant Christmas tree, got a bowl of the hot soup, wish is a typical Christmas Eve dish.

The organizers prepared 350 portions of fish soup. At the same time, they opened a kiosk with a petition titled “For Normal World – Let's Open the Czech Republic” that could be signed there.

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“First, we just wanted to open a petition point but in view of the statement by (Prague) Mayor (Zdeněk) Hřib (Pirates) who canceled the distribution of the Christmas Eve soup to the homeless, we decided to serve the soup instead of him,” one of the petition organisers, Jakub Olbert, said.

Serving the fish soup by the Prague mayor to people in need and others has a long tradition in Old Town Square in the Czech capital on Christmas Eve.

Next to the kiosk where they were serving the fish soup, they placed a coffin as a petition point to warn of the liquidation of rights and freedoms due to the coronavirus pandemic). People could either sign the petition or symbolically hammer in a nail into the coffin there.

One of the manifesto initiators, Jiří Janeček, the owner of the Malý Janek brewery in Jince, Central Bohemia, has been long protesting against the government measures. In the past, he kept his pub open even after the ordered closing time at 8 p.m. Now, restaurants and similar establishments are closed completely and can provide take-away sales only.

Unique ice cathedral decorating Slovak High Tatras

A unique ice cathedral, this time inspired by the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Saint Petersburg, has been created in the Hrebienok tourist resort in the High Tatras, the highest mountain range in Slovakia, Lucia Blašková head of the local tourism organization, said.

The organization initiated the project, and the preparation of which has lasted about one month this year, she added.

However, the organizers temporarily closed the ice cathedral to the public shortly before Christmas due to the adverse development of the novel coronavirus spread in the country.

Czech and Slovak sculptors used 1,880 ice blocks weighing more than 225 tons in total for the construction of the ice cathedral with a dome of a 25-meter diameter, while its highest point reaches 12 meters.

The dome and the respective technical equipment are to preserve the low temperature of the attraction that should last until early April 2021, according to the original plan.

“The Saint Petersburg church as the main motive has been chosen since it has so many details,” Blašková said. The ice church in the High Tatras is also decorated with various small ornaments and steeples accompanied by lighting. The ice cathedral attracts many tourists, she added.

However, tourism in the High Tatras was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures this year. They also complicated trips by Czechs for whom the Tatras are a popular tourist destination.

The ice cathedral in the Tatras, the only one of its kind in Slovakia, has become an annual tradition. A year ago, it was inspired by the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was damaged by fire in 2019.

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