Czech morning news in brief: Top stories for Dec. 7, 2020

Blatny not happy people flocking to bars and restaurants, possible state of emergency extension, 1,000 protest in Prague against restrictions.

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Written by Expats.cz
Published on 07.12.2020 08:24 (updated on 07.12.2020)

Top news stories for Dec. 7, 2020, compiled by CTK

Blatny criticizes night restaurant violations, demands high fines

The police cracked-down on restaurants and bars in the country this past weekend for staying open after 10 p.m. despite the requirement to close. After lockdown measures were lifted last Thursday, people flocked to restaurants and bars. Health Minister Jan Blatny (ANO) told CTK the actions were unacceptable and irresponsible.

This is why Blatny asked the interior minister and the police president to tighten the checks and called for imposing fines that could amount to millions of crowns for those who violate the restrictions.

"Even if there were just dozens of such cases, I consider it an immense problem," Blatny told the public Czech Television (CT).

The Czech Republic is on the verge between the fourth and third risk degrees of the he PES anti-epidemic system, and consequently if the epidemiological situation worsens, restaurants and bars, reopened on Thursday, will have to be closed again, Blatny said.

He added that he can understand that people wanted to meet and have fun after restaurants and bars were closed so long, and put the blame on their operators. Customers would understand that the restaurant owner followed the government regulation on restricted opening time and majority of the owners observed this, he said. "However, if even a small number of them behave irresponsibly, we all will pay dearly for this," he added.

Police President spokeswoman Katerina Rendlova confirmed to CTK that police patrols had been out over the weekend. She added that the exact number case violations would be known after the weekend.

Closing time at 10 p.m. along with a limited number of people in restaurants which corresponds to a half of their capacity, a maximum four people at one table are the restrictions under which restaurants and similar establishments could open within the third PES degree.

Govt. to debate increased COVID risk index today - MP

The increasing PES level is to be one of the main topics the Czech government will debate on Monday, Health Minister Jan Blatny (ANO) said yesterday, while his predecessor Roman Prymula told CNN Prima yesterday that improvement cannot be expected. The PES index rose by seven points to 64 Sunday, indicating a possible move to the stricter, fourth level.

PM Andrej Babis (ANO) told Czech Television (CT) last night that the coming days would indicate whether this was just a deviation or a constant trend. He did not rule out that the cabinet would have to tighten the recently relaxed restrictions again.

Babis also said the people demonstrating against the government anti-coronavirus restrictions did not understand that the virus was treacherous and had killed more than 8,000 people in the Czech Republic. He warned of underestimating the situation like he believes it was this past summer.

The current worsening of the epidemiological situation is not a result of the reopening of shops and restaurants (on Thursday), as it could not be manifested so early, Institute of Health Information and Statistics (UZIS) head Ladislav Dusek told CT yesterday.

Further steps will be decided according to the figures gathered over the next few days, Blatny told CTK. "I have long warned the situation is fragile, and this is why it is really important to observe the current restrictions. A decision on further steps will be made based on the data from the coming days. The government will meet today and this will definitely be one of its main issues," Blatny said.

The rise in the PES level was influenced by two factors, in his opinion – a slight increase in the relative share of positive cases and a higher reproduction (R) number, which is the average number of people infected by one positively tested person.

"The current R number is 1.02. The rise above 1.00 is very small, just two hundredths. Let's hold on and continue our responsible behavior," Blatny added.

1,000 protest in Prague center against government restrictions

Protesters demonstrating against government anti-coronavirus restrictions rallied in Wenceslas and Palacky squares in Prague's center yesterday. The demonstrators attending the rally put on by the group, Manifestation for Freedom and Truth Condemning Terror and Manipulation, met at each location, then set out on a joint march to the seat of the government.

According to CTK, just before 4 p.m., nearly 1,000 demonstrators from both squares met in the lower part of Wenceslas Square and together marched to Old Town square and across the river to the Government Office at Klarov where they held a rally.

Although the police did not interfere with the crowd, "Some people will be reported to the administrative body," a police spokesperson told CTK.  Under the current restrictions, only 100 people can take part in a demonstration, but they must be divided into groups of no more than 20, keep social distancing distance and have wear masks.

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"The introduction of totalitarianism continues and we tolerate this. Let us live without the government and its restrictions. Let us live and breathe freely like we did like last Christmas," said David Tesar, Manifestation for Freedom and Truth Condemning Terror and Manipulation organizer.

State of emergency from third PES level considered - MP

The state of emergency might be necessary in the Czech Republic only from the third PES level, Chamber of Deputies chairman Radek Vondracek (ANO) said on Czech TV yesterday.

The legal changes on the basis of which the state of emergency would not have to be declared for lower degrees, are currently being drafted, he added.

Senator Miroslava Nemcova (ODS) also said the current system was not logical. "I have information that the system will be modified and that the state of emergency is planned from the third level up and not for the lower levels," Vondracek said, adding that he does not know whether the material will be prepared for the Monday government meeting.

Nemcova stood up against the state of emergency extension in the TV debate. The government should prove that it is able to govern the country even without the state of emergency, she added. Nemcova called the current system of decision-making on anti-coronavirus measures chaotic and confused. Senators are debating now whether they should not participate in the approving of at least repeated requests for the state of emergency, she noted.

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, is to vote on the proposal for extending the state of emergency by 30 days due to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday. Currently, it is in place until December 12.

However, he said he did not expect MPs to approve a 30-day extension.

Most recently, the minority cabinet of PM Andrej Babis's ANO and Social Democrats (CSSD) asked the Chamber of Deputies to prolong the state of emergency by 30 days until December 20, but it did not gain the Chamber of Deputies' approval. MPs prolonged it only until December 12.

Iraqi man facing terrorism charges in the Czech Republic for joining IS

A Czech state attorney has brought terrorism charges against an Iraqi citizen for having left Prague for Iraq where he joined combat operations and propaganda activities for the Islamic State (IS), according to the indictment provided to CTK.

The man faces up to 20 years in prison and possible property forfeiture for a terrorist attack and participation in a terrorist group. The Prague Municipal Court will deal with his case in January in absentia.

The man, born in Baghdad, had permanent residence in the Czech Republic, flew from Prague to Istanbul in January 2015. According to the indictment, he left with the intention to join IS militants, which he did.

From Turkey, he traveled to Northern Iraq then controlled by IS. In April 2015, he reportedly participated in a combat offensive against the main oil refinery in Baiji with the intention to "injure or kill the enemies of Islamic State," the state attorney said.

Then the Iraqi took part in attacks on the Iraqi army and coalition units and was injured by a U.S. guided missile. In addition, he performed in an IS propaganda video, the charges say.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Moreover, the man was cooking for other IS members in the field and later, he assisted in the propaganda of the IS terrorist organization in Mosul, for which he was paid at least from February 2016 until May 2017.

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