Czech morning news in brief: top stories for Nov. 19, 2020

State of emergency extension being discussed today, Deputy PM requests stores stay open on Sundays, and winter is on its way this weekend.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 19.11.2020 09:32 (updated on 19.11.2020)

Czech MPs could extend the state of emergency Friday

STATE OF EMERGENCY -- On Friday deputies will consider the Czech government's request to extend the state of emergency that is currently in place due to the coronavirus epidemic. The ANO and CSSD minority government have asked the Chamber of Deputies for approval to extend the state of emergency by 30 days to Dec. 20. Statements made by representatives of the parliamentary parties so far indicate that the lower house could, as it has in the past, approve a shorter extension. Previously, the cabinet asked for 30 days but MPs agreed only to an extension of 17 days until Nov. 20. 

Health Minister Blatny: Risk level could be lowered by Christmas

PES SYSTEM -- Health Minister Jan Blatny (ANO) told Czech TV Wednesday night that the Czech Republic may reach level three (medium) on the PES risk assessment index system by Christmas. However, he also cautioned against the spread of infection while shopping for holiday presents, while PM Babiš warned against having Christmas gatherings. On Thursday, he will assess the data and possibly move the assessment level to four, making way for the loosening of restrictions. The fifth degree is the highest level of the PES system and corresponds to the current measures. A move from the fifth to the fourth degree of the PES system would also mean that additional grades could return to schools. Blatný is scheduled to give a press conference with Minister of Education Robert Plaga (ANO) today.

Deputy PM: More people in shops and reopen stores on Sunday

SHOPPING LIMITS -- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček (ANO) will propose at Friday's government meeting a lifting of the Sunday sales ban, as well as the possibility to allow more customers per operating space in stores. Easier access for parents with prams and disabled people will also be discussed, Havlíček told CTK. From Wednesday, a number of retailers saw problems arising from the limitation of the customer numbers per area. From Thursday, some shopping chains will change their system for tracking the number of shoppers.

Czech government to give CZK 20 million to food banks

CHARITY -- The Czech government is likely to decide on Friday to release CZK 20 million from the budget reserve to food banks to buy food for the poor, PM Andrej Babis (ANO) told reporters Wednesday. A food collection will take place in shops on Saturday. Selected stores of the Albert, Billa, DM, Globus, Kaufland, Lidl, Makro, Rossmann, and Tesco chains and e-shops Rohlik.cz and iTesco will participate in the project. People can buy durable food products in the shops based on the lists available there and then donate them to volunteers (wearing green aprons) who will transport the foodstuffs to food banks.

Survey: Almost 9 percent of Czech adults drink alcohol daily

PUBLIC HEALTH -- Some 18 percent of adult Czechs smoke tobacco products every day and almost 9 percent drink alcohol daily, according to a 2019 report on drugs in the Czech Republic. Alcohol consumption is risky for 14-18 percent of the population, about 1.5 million people in a country of 10.7 million. Daily alcohol consumption and frequent excessive drinking is on the rise among both and women in the past few years, the report warns. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug, 9 to 11 percent of adults have used it within the past year. The most problematic hard drug in the Czech Republic is pervitin (methamphetamine).

Winter is coming this weekend

WEATHER -- Thursday will be one of the last in a series of above-average November days. Temps will reach up to thirteen degrees Celsius but are predicted to drop from Friday. The highest daytime temperatures will be up to nine degrees but dip to minus four at night. Czech meteorologists are calling for clouds, fog, and freezing mornings and possibly snowfall in the mountains over the weekend (CHMI).