Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Feb. 18, 2021

Most wellness centers may close, Muchová out at the Australian Open, UNESCO-listed garden in ownership dispute, and Chinese Embassy rebukes Duka. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 18.02.2021 09:27:00 (updated on 18.02.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

RESTITUTION: Archbishopric sues over UNESCO site, again

The Olomouc Archbishopric has filed a constitutional complaint in its dispute over the Flower Garden, one of the two UNESCO-listed historical gardens adjoining the Archbishop's chateau in Kroměříž. The Supreme Court ruled in December that the Czech state need not return the Flower Garden, confirming the previous verdicts. The Archbishopric says the Flower Garden forms an indivisible unit with the chateau and the other historical garden surrounding it, which the Catholic Church regained based on the church restitution law in 2015. The Kroměříž chateau and its two gardens were put on the UNESCO world heritage list in 1998.

SHOPPING: 80 percent of Czechs shopped online in 2020

The number of people shopping online increased across the EU in 2020, partly in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Eurostat. Czechs ranked sixth in the EU, with 80 percent of people between 16 and 74 with internet access shopping online, above the EU-27 average of 72 percent. A year earlier, 73 percent of the same group of Czechs made purchases online and the EU average was 68 percent. The Netherlands led the list at 91 followed by Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Ireland. On the other hand, fewer than 50 percent had shopped online in Bulgaria, Romania, and Italy.

BUSINESS: Most wellness and saunas centers will cease operation

More than half of Czech sauna and wellness operators will end their operations in a few months under the Czech government’s new compensation system, the Association of Wellness and Sauna Centers (SWSC) announced. They called on the government to open operations under strict hygiene and safety rules using antigen testing or to reimburse operators’ costs. Last week, the government approved a new compensation system to replace most of the existing specific programs, but it was criticized by professional organizations for not being sufficient to cover costs. Saunas, wellness centers, indoor pools, and gyms have been closed since Oct. 9. 

PROTEST: China objects to Prague Archbishop’s coronavirus comments

The Chinese Embassy in Prague said it is very dissatisfied with Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka's statement that coronavirus is a Chinese biological weapon that leaked from a lab. The embassy added that it was an unjustifiable slander against China and asked Duka to immediately correct his claim. Cardinal Duka made the statement about coronavirus during an early February sermon in Prague's St. Vitus Cathedral. After his words were cited by media, the Prague Archbishopric said they had been taken out of context. The Chinese Embassy cited the World Health Organization research saying that a lab leak was extremely unlikely.


SCIENCE: Czech researchers uncover Asian forests’ secrets

Czech scientists took part in research showing that East Asian forests’ ability toa dapt to different light conditions helps them regenerate after typhoons. The results appeared in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography. Data from forests in South Korea and Russia showed that the previous division of trees into those preferring shadow and those preferring light is not accurate, the paper’s co-author Jan Altman of the Czech Academy of Science’s Institute of Botany said. “Research results are relatively optimistic at a time when global change is mostly having a negative impact on forest communities and nature in general,” Altman said, adding that typhoons are moving to new areas.

LEGAL: Bolt drivers must have a taxi license

The High Court in Prague ruled that drivers for Estonian ride-sharing company Bolt who do not hold a taxi driver’s license and do not have a registered vehicle may not drive in Prague. The decision upheld the lawsuit of the Association of Prague Taxi Operators (SPPT). According to Bolt, the decision will have no effect, as it already complies with the legal conditions. In 2018, the Prague Municipal Court upheld SPPT's lawsuit. Bolt appealed against the judgment. Last year, an amendment came into force, repealing part of the legal conditions for ride services, and the SPPT modified its suit in response.

SPORTS: Muchová out at the Australian Open

Czech tennis star Karolína Muchová was eliminated from the Australian Open in Melbourne after losing to American tennis player Jennifer Brady in the semifinals. Muchová, who has never been ranked higher than No. 21, entered the tournament as an underdog. She rose to the semifinals with an upset victory over No. 1 ranked Ashleigh Barty. Japanese player Naomi Osaka, who beat Serena Williams in their semi-final match, will play Barty for the title.


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