Czech morning news in brief: top stories for March 16, 2021

German ambassador apologizes on anniversary of invasion, Volkswagen may set up battery factory in Czech Republic, police record 30,000 lockdown violations. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 16.03.2021 09:55:00 (updated on 16.03.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

German ambassador apologizes to Czechs on anniversary of occupation

The German occupation of what is now the Czech Republic began 82 years ago on March 15, 1939, a day after a German-backed puppet state was established in a newly independent Slovakia. The anniversary was widely commemorated Monday with one particular tribute standing out among them: German Ambassador Christoph Israng delivered a bouquet to Prague Castle to express his sympathy and respect for the victims. "We remember with great pain and reverence the victims of this dark chapter of Czech-German history," the ambassador wrote on Twitter. A number of Czechs responded with words of thanks and respect for the ambassador's gesture, including Pilsen's deputy governor who said: "This is what an apology looks like. This is the lesson of history. This is what an ally looks like."

Around 30,000 Czechs fined for lockdown violation

Czech police have imposed some 30,000 fines for non-observance of anti-COVID-19 measures and issued around 27,000 citations that led to administrative proceedings, a Czech police spokesman told reporters Monday. Police have been monitoring compliance with lockdown measures for a year. On March 12, 2020, the first state of emergency was declared; seven days later, people were prohibited from leaving home without covering their mouths and nose. During their almost four million checks on lockdown compliance, police discovered 115,000 offenses, most of which were settled with a verbal warning. This year, there have been over 57,000 offenses. The insufficient covering of the mouth and nose or failure to wear respirators or nano masks was the case in almost 40,000 offenses. Other common offenses included violation of the night curfew, drinking alcohol in public, and since March, the ban on leaving a district.

Volkswagen considering battery factory in Czech Republic

German carmaker Volkswagen plans to build six battery factories in Europe by 2030, the company said in a presentation released on Monday. One of those factories could be located in the Czech Republic. The company wants to secure sufficient supplies for its electric cars and at the same time prepare for competition with other electric car manufacturers, such as the American company Tesla. The new factories are expected to produce cells with a total energy value of 240 GWh per year by the time they are finally completed. The Czech Republic is one locations being considered for the Eastern European factory planned for 2027 as are Poland and Slovakia. The Škoda car plant in Mladá Boleslav is part of Volkswagen. Read more here.

Czech company starts producing pucks for hockey world championship

Gufex, a family company in Kateřinice in the Vsetínsko region has started producing pucks for the Ice Hockey World Championship, which will take place at the end of May and run through June in Latvia. The Czech company will produce about 5,000 pieces for the championship. Gufex makes around 1.5 million hockey pucks a year according to ČTK. The company produced a similar number of pucks for the previous championship. Last year, Gufex was set to deliver pucks to the World Championships in Switzerland, which, like other competitions, did not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Gufex has been supplying pucks for major hockey events since the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998. 

Olomouc Zoo acquires a pair of rare three-banded armadillos

The Olomouc Zoo has acquired a pair of southern three-banded armadillos and plans to try breeding this curious species with a pedigree reaching back to the Paleocene period, 55 million years ago. The male comes from the Opole Zoo in Poland, where he was born in 2018. The female was born in the Jihlava Zoo in 2020. "The cases of successful breeding of this species in captivity have been very rare, and it would make us proud if we succeeded," said Olomouc zoologist Jitka Vokurkova. The southern three-banded armadillo lives in grassy and peatland areas in South America. Along with other armadillo species, they are the only mammal with its body covered with firm bone plates as a protection against predators.

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