Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Feb. 1, 2021

Czech Health Minister may leave post, hundreds protest against anti-COVID restrictions, frost turns to spring-like temps this week.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 01.02.2021 09:27:00 (updated on 01.02.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

POLITICS: Czech TV reports Health Minister Blatný may leave post within two weeks

Czech TV is reporting that Health Minister Jan Blatný could leave the post within two weeks, while PM Andrej Babiš might take over the role with Roman Prymula as an executive minister, according to the information released in the Questions of Vaclav Moravec programme. Babiš refused to comment on the CT speculations in reaction to a ČTK question. He told server Seznam Zprávy later that he was not considering the health minister's replacement.

Chamber of Deputies chairman Radek Vondráček said in the CT debate he had no information or indications such a personnel change at the Health Ministry's helm. "I know nothing about this, I have not been addressed," Prymula told ČTK in reaction. Prymula was Blatný's predecessor for about a month last autumn, but he was forced to resign last October over the pictures in a tabloid showing him leaving a restaurant in Prague, which should be closed within the government anti-epidemic lockdown, late in the evening and entering a car without a face mask.

CORONAVIRUS: Hundreds take part in demonstration against anti-COVID restrictions

Hundreds of people are protesting against the government anti-coronavirus lockdown measures in the upper part of Wenceslas Square in Prague centre this afternoon and the police were monitoring the demonstration. The rally, which lasted two and a half hours, was entitled "We Are People, You Cannot Switch Us Off." It was staged by activist Ondřej Březina, from the Politicka drbna (Political Gossiper) web, and Jana Peterková. The participants were carrying Czech flags and banners with slogans saying they are no children, the government is restricting their sports activities and demanding the end of the government pestering. They were also challenging the vaccination against COVID-19. The police did not have to interfere as they had not noticed any serious problems and no one was detained, police spokeswoman Violeta Siřišťová told ČTK.

VACCINE: Czech-made vaccine could arrive by April

A new vaccine, partially made in the Czech Republic is close to being launched according to a report by iDnes. The vaccine, with almost 90% effectiveness, could be used later this year. Czech scientists participated in the substance of the Novavax company based near Prague, and it could reach people in April. This was confirmed to CNN PrimaNews by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček. "I know that they have started the production of the vaccine, I know that it is a question of certificates and approvals," Havlíček answered when asked whether the start of commercial production of the vaccine is really close.

The Marketwatch.com portal stated that the American company Novavax is to produce up to one billion batches later this year, and a significant part of it is to fall to the Czech branch NOVAVAX CZ. The CNN PrimaNEWS editorial staff, therefore, turned to NOVAVAX CZ with a request for information on how many batches it would be able to produce this year and at what stage the production or certification is located. The answer has not yet arrived.

Pic of the day

RUSSIA PROTESTS: Zeman speaks out about Navalny protests in Russia

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny should not pretend to be one of the politicians who oppose the regime of President Vladimir Putin, as he is just against Putin, which is a big difference, President Milos Zeman said in an interview with Frekvence 1 radio station. Tens of thousands of people were protesting in the streets of Russia against Navalny's arrest on another weekend. Russian security forces detained more than 4,000 demonstrators demanding Navalny's release from custody, writes the OVD-Info server, monitoring police activities. If the information is confirmed, it will be a higher number of detainees than during similar demonstrations last Saturday when more than 3,500 people were taken into custody all over Russia. Navalny's wife Yulia is among the detainees.

ECONOMY: Monthly mortgage payment rate falls in 2020

The monthly payment for the average mortgage in 2020 fell by CZK 800 in the Czech Republic according to the Czech Banking Association's APR Index. Compared to November 2020, it fell by 0.01 percentage point. In December 2019, it was 2.50 percent, therefore it decreased by 0.32 percentage points year-on-year, the Czech Banking Association informed ČTK. In December 2020, new mortgage loans for housing from banks and building societies reached a total volume of CZK 23.1 billion. This is one billion crowns more than in November 2020 and CZK 8.5 billion, which is 57 percent more than in December 2019. In the entire history of Czech National Bank statistics, not as many mortgage loans were sold as in December 2020. Sales and building societies also performed well. For the whole of 2020, mortgages were sold for CZK 217 billion, which means a record year. 

Loňský rok byl co do objemu poskytnutých hypotečních úvěrů rekordní. Kdo by to čekal ➡ Klienti „zabodovali“ a opět...

Posted by Česká bankovní asociace on Wednesday, 20 January 2021

ANIMALS: Changes in selling cats and dogs come into force

It is forbidden to sell dogs and cats in pet stores and public spaces from today. New measures were announced in January with an amendment to the Act on the Protection of Animals against Cruelty which will also bring a ban on cage farming, but that will not apply until 2027. The state will also start reimbursing municipalities for the costs of taking care of collected animals, for example from abusive owners. However, the costs incurred will have to exceed CZK 200,000 in relation to one breeder. For this year, the Ministry of Agriculture has CZK three million for these expenses, the department's spokesman Vojtěch Bílý told iDnes.

WEATHER: Spring-like temperatures expected this week

The weather in the Czech Republic this coming week will see significant changes in pressure and temperature. The first days of February will be more like April according to Novinky. After a frosty Monday morning, there will be a change that will bring temperatures up to around 12 degrees. Dagmar Honsová from Meteopress informed about the news. She said that gradually cold air will start to flow from us to the northwest. "Even though we measure up to 12 degrees on Wednesday afternoon highs, drivers have to stay alert - ice will form in freezing rainfall and icing in the morning at sub-freezing temperatures," Honsová warned. Temperatures in the north and northeast of the Czech Republic fell below -15 degrees on Monday morning. It was coldest on the Jizerka in the Jizera Mountains, at -27.8 degrees. Read the full story here.

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