Czech morning news in brief: Top stories for Nov. 30, 2020

More students head back to school, court head says Czech spring border closures unconstitutional, shops and restaurants to open soon.

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 30.11.2020 08:28 (updated on 30.11.2020)

Top news stories for Nov. 30, 2020, compiled by CTK

More primary school students head back to classes today

EDUCATION - Today, nearly 800,000 out of about 950,000 schoolchildren in the Czech Republic will be back in primary school. According to the return-to-school schedule after lockdown measures were relaxed more than a week ago, 3rd-5th and 9th graders will head back today, while the 6th-8th grades will start a rotating attendance schedule between online and in-class instruction. Nearly all schools have been closed with student learning remotely since Oct. 14. Students in the 1st and 2nd grades of primary schools returned Wednesday, Nov. 18. Special schools also opened, which were closed from Nov. 2. Only kindergartens and selected schools allocated to children of healthcare and social workers, police, firefighters, and other front-line professions have remained open. Wearing face masks will remain mandatory everywhere at school, except for kindergartens and special schools in the fourth as well as the third PES risk levels, and schools will need to frequently air out classrooms and observe other sanitary standards, according to Education Minister Robert Plaga (ANO).

Shops, Services and restaurants open Thursday, but state of emergency likely to stay until next year

LOCKDOWN - Starting Thursday, the Czech Republic will move to level three of the PES system, paving the way for the lifting of many lockdown restrictions. Ministers decided yesterday during an extraordinary meeting that all shops, including restaurants, and other service establishments will be allowed to open, as well as an end to night curfew restrictions. According to Health Minister Jan Blatný (ANO), it is unlikely that the country will fall below level three of the PES system by the end of the year. Despite the improvement in the pandemic situation in recent weeks, according to Blatný, the government will again ask the Chamber of Deputies to extend the state of emergency, which is to end on 12 December. Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček (ANO) said on Czech Television today that the cabinet will ask for an extension until the end of the year.

Spring border closure was unconstitutional – Constitutional Court head

BOARDER CLOSINGS - The spring closure of borders for traveling from the Czech Republic, which the government approved at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, was against the constitution, the president of the Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetsky, told Czech Television yesterday. The government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) temporarily closed the border after the first state of emergency was declared March 16. At that time, it banned not only foreigners' entry to the Czech Republic, but also Czechs' trips abroad. "At one moment, the government closed the borders and no one was allowed to travel from the Czech Republic. This is absolutely unconstitutional," Rychetsky said. "The government can close the border at a crisis situation, but only for the return or arrival to the country. Because of experience with our past totalitarian regime, the constitution expressly states that no one can be prevented from leaving the country," he added. Rychetsky said the state of emergency suited any cabinet because it always opens many chances for various interventions. Under the state of emergency and similar emergency situations the judiciary is crippled because it must observe trial rules and does not have a chance of acting fast, he added.

Many Czechs believe government failed in coronavirus

POLL - According to a survey conducted by STEM/MARK and released yesterday, almost 31 percent of Czechs believe that the cabinet has mismanaged the COVID-19 crisis, while only 17 percent believe that the current minority government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) and the Social Democrats (CSSD) have managed the crisis well. 1,000 Czechs between November 25 and 27 were asked a series of questions related to the lockdown measures. Eight in ten Czechs agree with the reopening of schools. When it comes to lockdown, 59 percent supported the restriction limiting group contact to a maximum of six people in public, while 58 percent of respondents said it was a good thing to limit the number of people in shops. When it came to limiting family contacts 53 percent of those surveyed supported the measure. With regard to restrictions overall, the least support among Czechs was found for the night curfew and limiting the opening hours of shops. Overall, 77 percent of those asked do not support permanent restrictions on shops and services.

PRIVATE PROPERTIES

Health Ministry to refute coronavirus disinformation in new campaign

GOVERNMENT - The Health Ministry plans to use CZK 50 million on an information campaign to combat what it claims is, 'disinformation' regarding the COVID pandemic, lockdown measures and other related topics. The comprehensive communication campaign to explain measures against the spread of coronavirus will begin early next year, as the tender for it will not be finished before January 1, Health Minister Jan Blatny (ANO) said. "Starting this Monday, our press department will set right the most frequent disinformation [regarding the pandemic] on our webpage and during Friday press conferences, we will always select the most serious one and we will highlight and comment on it," Blatny said. When it comes to the comprehensive communication campaign, this is proceeding slower than we wanted. However, legal rules must be observed, he added. The communication campaign is to relate to the blanket testing, the wearing of face masks, the eRouska application, the fight against disinformation, the recruitment of volunteers and donation of blood and plasma.