Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Nov. 17, 2020

Several important updates have been made to the restrictions on travel and freedom of movement in the past 24 hours

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 17.11.2020 08:55 (updated on 17.11.2020)

Top news stories for November 17, 2020, compiled by CTK.

PM Babis highlights importance of freedom at November 1989 memorial

FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY DAY -- Prime Minister Andrej Babis emphasised the importance of freedom as he and Finance Minister Alena Schillerova laid flowers and lit candles Tuesday morning beneath the memorial plaque on Narodni Street marking the events of November 1989. Czechs remember the fall of the communist regime 31 years ago today on the Day of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy. The national holiday commemorates the student demonstrations against communism in 1989 and against the Nazi occupation in 1939. This year celebrations have moved online due to the coronavirus epidemic.

More people may attend weddings, funerals, masses

COVID RESTRICTIONS -- Weddings, funerals, and church services may be attended by 15 people instead of the current ten from Nov. 18. The change was approved by the Czech government Monday. The rules have been modified to correspond with the measures according to the risk score of the PES epidemic system. The exemption from the ban on free movement also newly covers outdoor sports activities. Currently, ten people may attend mass events indoors, including weddings and funerals. The new measure, which is consistent with the end of the current state of emergency on November 20, is in accordance with the fifth level of the PES chart, which raises the number of attendees of such events to 15.

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Czech Republic to donate eight million for Palestinian fire engine

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS -- The Czech Republic will send CZK 8 million for the purchase of a high-capacity fire engine to Palestinian firefighters, the government announced Monday in response to a request by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry. "The donation to the Palestinian Authority does not jeopardise the relations between the Czech Republic and Israel. The other way round, we can underline that fire security is one of the few fields in which Israeli and Palestinian parties cooperate despite long-term political disputes. The Israeli side welcomes professional cooperation with their Palestinian counterparts, be it fire extinction or coordinated coronavirus pandemic management nowadays," the Interior Ministry wrote in a report made available to CTK.

Saxony limits cross-border contact with Czech Republic

TRAVEL -- From Tuesday, Nov. 17, German Saxony will considerably limit cross-border contact with Poland and the Czech Republic due to the coronavirus, Saxony Health Minister Petra Kopping told journalists Monday. Currently visits are allowed without quarantine if they are shorter than 24 hours. From Tuesday, trips will be limited to 12 hours. The conditions for travel to the region will also change. Trips for shopping will no longer be possible. Cross-border commuters, however, still have an exemption. Czech ambassador to Germany Tomas Kafka told CTK it was just a temporary measure. The decision is a reaction to the growing interest in Christmas shopping in the area.

Lockdown for foreign trips slightly loosened

TRAVEL -- As of Tuesday, Nov. 17 people may conduct essential travel to countries marked red on the travel traffic light map for up to 24 hours without COVID testing. This applies to trips for health, family, business or work reasons. Checks will be random. The State Department announced the update on Twitter Monday. The Foreign Ministry also announced that as of Tuesday, unmarried couples may travel abroad to meet. "Newly it will be possible to meet a partner from the countries from which the visas are needed when traveling to the Czech Republic. A long-standing relationship must be proven," the ministry added.

Minimum wage to rise to CZK 15,200

EMPLOYMENT -- The minimum wage will be raised by CZK 600 to CZK 15,200 a month as of January 2021. The decision was approved by the Czech government Monday, Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jana Malacova (CSSD) told journalists. Malacova said the Social Democrats had failed to gain support in the government for an even higher minimum wage. In January 2020, the minimum wage was increased by CZK 1,250 to 14,600. For a 40-hour work week, this amounts to CZK 87.30 per hour.