Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Feb. 8, 2021

Public transport collapses in Prague due to snow, Czech politican compares COVID to WWII, petition circulating to return children to school. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 08.02.2021 09:22:00 (updated on 08.02.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

POLITICS: Czech poltician compares COVID crisis to WWII

Czech Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Jana Maláčová (ČSSD) in a debate with ODS deputy Jan Skopeček on Prima Television network this weekend, stated that "even the Second World War did not cause what COVID did." Maláčová's opponent called on her to apologize for the "unbelievable" comparison; she later took to Twitter saying that her statement was aimed at closed school closures. "I am the last to wish to alleviate the suffering of World War II and to dishonor its victims. But closed schools are a disaster, the whole year is irreplaceable for children! We need to find a way to get them back in school and not make the pandemic worse."

PRAGUE: Public transport collapses in capital due to snowy conditions

Public transport has collapsed in Prague Monday morning due to snow, with tram and bus connections running tens of minutes late. Radiožurnál reports that the transit company (DPP) sent a special tram into the streets intended for sweeping the tracks; in the meantime, the transit company is calling on commuters to use the metro instead. DPP posted on social media earlier this morning that many of its lines were operating on a delay.

EDUCATION: Petition to reopen schools has 13,000 signatures

More than 13,000 people have signed the petition We Must Not Sacrifice Children! calling for the immediate reopening of schools. "Isolation, lack of movement, days spent in the virtual world, permanent stay in the often very burdened family environment is a threat for children and young people and it will markedly manifest itself even in future," reads the petition drafted by representatives of schools, local authorities, psychologists, and youth organizations. The fact that children can neither go to school nor do free-time activities dangerously increases risky behavior and can have a lasting impact on physical and psychological well-being, the petition states. Its creators look to the example of Austria which is reopening schools and launching antigen testing of all the students.

CULTURE: National Theatre cancels 684 performances over epidemic

The National Theatre in Prague (ND) played 519 performances and had to cancel 684 performances in 2020 because of the epidemic. Its financial loss is estimated at CZK 250 million, an ND spokesperson told ČTK. Like other theatres, the ND had to suspend its performances for the public last spring due to government restrictions. This has been the longest period of time without continuous performances since its opening in 1881. The theatre had a balanced budget of CZK 1.2 billion last year as the state contribution was increased by CZK 161 million, and costs were reduced by CZK 82 million.

HUMAN RIGHTS: Belarusian flag will fly above Wallenstein Palace until Tuesday

The Czech Senate flew the Belarusian historical white-red-white flag over its seat Sunday to express solidarity with the political opposition in Belarus six months after the presidential election, Senate press secretary Sue Nguyen told ČTK. The flag will fly above the Wallenstein Palace in Prague until Tuesday. President Alexander Lukashenko won the elections held last summer according to the official result but opposition figures and some poll workers maintain those results were fraudulent. The European Union does not recognize the election outcome and has imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and his collaborators on suspicion of election rigging as well as suppression of human rights during the post-election protests. The white-red-white Belarusian flag was also hoisted on the building of the Liberec regional office. The Association of Czech Towns and Municipalities also called on its members to fly the flag.

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