Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Jan. 28, 2021

Czech Republic falls in international corruption rankings, Switzerland to require negative COVID test, and comedian Eddie Izzard "runs" for Prague. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 28.01.2021 09:40:00 (updated on 28.01.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

POLITICS: Czech Republic falls in the international corruption rankings

The Czech Republic fell once again in the international corruption ranking, coming in 49th place, according to a 2020 index compiled by Transparency International. The country dropped five positions since 2019 resulting in a negative evaluation of the development of corruption in the Czech Republic. Denmark and New Zealand claimed the top spots respectively. 180 countries and territories were evaluated as part of the ranking system. Last year, the Czech Republic fell by six positions to 44th place. See the full index here.

TRAVEL: Switzerland to demand negative COVID tests from Czech Republic

A negative coronavirus test will be required for travelers coming to Switzerland from high-risk COVID-19 countries, including the Czech Republic as of Feb. 8, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset told a press conference today. Quarantine upon arrival remains in force. "Anyone coming from a high-risk country will have to show a negative test. This will apply to all travelers including those taking a plane," Berset said. The Czech Republic reappeared on the Swiss list of the COVID high-risk countries on Jan. 15. Slovakia will be added there as of Feb. 1. Besides the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Switzerland will require negative coronavirus test results from people coming from 22 countries and regions, including Britain, the Netherlands, the U.S., and some parts of German and Austrian as well as particular Italian and French regions.

ECONOMY: Selling price of new flats in Prague doubled in last five years

Selling prices of new flats in Prague increased by just over two percent on year at the end of 2020 to CZK 107,877 per square meter. The percentage of increase fell from 3.2 percent at the end of Sept. The number of flats sold rose by 3.6 percent to 5,800, the most since 2016. In the last quarter, developers sold 2,050 apartments, the strongest sales quarter in ten years. 

The data was compiled by development companies Trigema, Skanska Reality, and Central Group. "The selling price of new flats in Prague has almost doubled in the last five years. The reason is the continuing high demand and at the same time very limited supply of new flats due to slow permits. Prices for construction work and land also rose sharply," said head of Central Group Dušan Kunovský. Compared to the end of the third quarter, prices of new apartments fell by two percent. Since mid-2015, they have fallen only three times quarter-on-quarter.

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FAMILY: Child benefits in the Czech Republic could increase

Child allowances may increase by about a quarter under new proposals, with the circle of families who are entitled to receive them also expanding. The changes will be brought about by the government's amendment on social support, which was supported by the Chamber of Deputies in Wednesday's session. It should cost an extra CZK 3.6 billion a year. A draft of the amendment will now be discussed by the Social Committee. Children under the age of six now receive CZK 500 a month, from six to 15 years it is CZK 610. The benefit for people from 15 to 26 years of age is CZK 700 per month. In families where at least one of the parents' works, runs a business, is in parental, sick leave, nursing, or retired, the benefit is CZK 300 higher. 

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Czech Republic to host Terezín Declaration conference

The Czech Republic will hold a 2022 conference of the countries that signed the Terezín Declaration in 2009 during its European Union (EU) presidency, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said at an online Czech-Israeli meeting on Wednesday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The meeting was streamed on the Foreign Ministry's Facebook. Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi thanked Petříček for the initiative and said the international conference would be an important step in remembering and achieving justice. The Terezín Declaration, which bears the name of the Terezín (Theresienstadt) North Bohemian town where a Nazi wartime internment camp for Jews was situated, deals with the legacy of the Holocaust. Yesterday Czech president Zeman denounced EU support for Palestine and declared the Holocaust "the worst crime in human history."

CHARITY: British comedian completes virtual marathon of Prague

British comedy star Eddie Izzard has completed a virtual marathon in Prague as part of fundraising efforts that will see her complete 31 marathons followed by 31 comedy performances across the whole of January. Last year Eddie ran the marathons in the cities themselves but due to the coronavirus pandemic was forced to instead do it virtually on a treadmill. The marathon series is called "Run for Hope" and is live-streamed on Twitter and Vimeo with celebrity guests such as Joe Rogan and Stephen Fry appearing in the videos. Money will be raised for multiple international charities, with £134,831 or around CZK 3,975,855 raised so far.

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