Czech morning news in brief: Top stories for Nov. 20, 2020

Kids set to return to school, state of emergency extended, and other important updates.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 20.11.2020 08:11 (updated on 20.11.2020)

Top news stories for Nov. 20, 2020, compiled by CTK.

State of emergency prolonged in the Czech Republic

STATE OF EMERGENCY -- The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, agreed Thursday to extend the state of emergency in the Czech Republic due to the coronavirus epidemic until Dec. 12, not until Dec. 20 as the government requested. MPs prolonged the state of emergency by 22 days as proposed by the Communists (KSCM). The coalition government of PM Andrej Babis' ANO party and the Social Democrats (CSSD) asked for its prolongation by 30 days. The state of emergency is a condition of the government's current lockdown measures.

Students will return to school gradually

Czech secondary schools' final-year students will return to school as of November 25, and primary schools' 3rd-5th and 9th graders go back as of November 30, while the 6th-8th grades will start with rotating attendance, Education Minister Robert Plaga (ANO) said in a press conference Thursday. The wearing of face masks will remain mandatory on all school premises except for kindergartens and special schools. In the fourth stage of the PES system, expected to go into effect Monday, gatherings of up to six people could also be allowed and curfew should be change to 23:00 instead of 21:00.

Senate wants to declare June 24 'obliterated villages remembrance day'

The Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, sent a bill to the lower house that proposes June 24 as a memorial day for sites obliterated during the Nazi occupation. If the proposal the passes, June 24, when Czechs commemorate the obliteration of the East Bohemian village of Lezaky by the Nazis in 1942, would become the 16th significant day in the Czech calendar. The bill was initiated by Senate social committee chairwoman Miluse Horska from the Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) group who said that only Lidice is remembered (on June 10) but that similar sites are commemorated only on the regional and local level only. Nazis razed Lezaky to the ground in retaliation against the May 27 attack on Reichsprotector of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich who died as a result of his injuries.

Senate against insurers paying tests directly to distributers

The Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, rejected Thursday a government amendment under which health insurance companies would pay coronavirus antigen tests directly to distributers who would deliver them to retirement homes and other facilities. The amendment will be returned to the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house, which may outvote the Senate's veto. Opponents of the legislation argue that the amendment to the public insurance law is redundant also because of other existing possibilities of payment. Moreover, there is no guarantee that it cannot be abused, they say.

Autumn dig reveals surprise truffles

The regular autumn digging of patches in the Brno botanical garden has revealed fruiting bodies of winter truffle, a rare species and sought-after delicacy, that has never been found there before, garden expert Hana Ondruskova told CTK today. The spores that rooted in beech roots might have been brought to the Masaryk University garden among the seeds from the Mediterranean or the French garden. The fruiting bodies were handed to the Institute of Zoology and Botany and will become a part of its collection. Winter truffles are reputed for their flavour and distinctive aroma. They are home in beech forests and need calcareous soil. In contrast to regular mushroom picking, truffle hunting is prohibited in the Czech Republic. The truffles available in shops are imported mostly from Italy and France.