Czech news in brief for December 8: Friday's top headlines

Germany to extend border controls with Czechia, new Baroque exhibit opens in National Museum, and Pavel outperforms Zeman as president in a new poll.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 08.12.2023 09:07:00 (updated on 08.12.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

labor market Unemployment holds steady in Czechia, at 3.5 percent

Data from the Labor Office of the Czech Republic finds that in November Czechia maintained an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, with 263,226 jobless individuals, a rise of 2,585 from October. 

Vacancies decreased to 278,708, falling by about 1,800. Labor Office analysts predict a potential seasonal increase in unemployment despite minimal impact from current economic stagnation. The Ústí nad Labem region had the highest unemployment rate, at 5.4 percent, while Zlín and Vysočina held the lowest figure at 2.6 percent. Notably, data shows that in November there were 0.9 job seekers per job vacancy in Czechia.

geopolitics Czech defense minister: V4 will help Ukraine in own ways

Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochova today affirmed continued support from the Visegrád Group of Ukraine's defense against Russia, acknowledging at the same time that each country would support Ukraine “in its own way.” Czechia’s defense minister said that if countries slackened their support for Ukraine, it would be a signal that the West is weak.

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Černochova also called on the EU to recognize the defense industry as being “socially beneficial” and asked for greater funding, with the aim of helping Ukraine. Commenting on the Western Balkans, Černochova underlined the importance of preventing Russia from gaining influence in the region.

health Doctors told to end protest after settlement reached

Vice president of the Czech Medical Chamber (CLK) Jan Prada this afternoon urged doctors to revoke their overtime refusal following an agreement reached between the Czech Health Ministry and hospitals to increase doctors' pay. Over 6,100 doctors, as per CLK records, previously declined overtime work in December, impacting hospital services, notably elective care.

The agreement means that almost CZK 10 billion extra will be allocated to hospital healthcare workers, and doctors will be able to work 24-hour shifts (which they had previously called for after the option to do this was taken away). The legal limit for overtime work will also be halved to 416 hours.

weather Meteorologists issue ice warning for weekend

Ice may form in southern and southwestern Bohemia this evening, at night, and on Saturday morning. From Saturday evening, there is a threat of freezing rain with the formation of ice in most of the country. The highest risk of ice formation is on Friday evening and Saturday night in southern and southwestern Bohemia.

The ice warning is valid from 6 p.m. today until 10 a.m. Saturday in the South Bohemian, Pilsen, and Karlovy Vary regions. Ice may reappear Saturday evening and Sunday night in most areas. Pedestrians are advised to be cautious and drivers should expect extended travel times.

Travel German train strike to impact travel from Czechia

Czech passengers face significant disruptions due to the German train drivers' strike, with only a fifth of express trains running and widespread outages expected. Controls at the Czech-German border, including lane diversions and potential police inspections on buses, add to travel challenges. Private carriers will operate without restrictions, ensuring some regional connections on the Czech-German border continue.

However, the cancellation of up to 80 percent of German Railways' long-distance lines, including the express connection between Prague and Berlin, means Czech travelers may experience altered final stops in Děčín or Dresden and the cancellation of express trains via Cheb through Friday.

IT Court ruled Covid-19 čTečka app breached law

The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that the checks conducted through the čTečka app during the pandemic were in breach of the law, as personal health data could have been obtained. The app, launched by the Ministry of Health in June 2021, had over 1.4 million downloads.

The Ministry made it mandatory to prove infection-free status when entering certain facilities using Covid-19 passports retrieved by inspectors through the čTečka app. The court agreed with the complainant that this requirement violated privacy rights. The Tečka app, used to store Covid-19 certificates, was downloaded to over six million phones.

society Fiala awards 14 people the Karel Kramář Medal

Senator and former Speaker of the Czech lower house Miroslava Němcová, lawyer Stanislav Devátý, and sculptor Jaroslav Róna were among the 14 personalities awarded the Karel Kramář Medal by Prime Minister Petr Fiala today. Fiala honored their contributions to culture, human rights, building a democratic society, journalism, and science.

The awardees were recognized for their lifetime work and extraordinary results. The prime minister thanked them for improving both Czech society and the wider community. The award ceremony was initially scheduled for Nov. 17, the Day of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy, and was rescheduled due to Fiala's health issues.

Society Czechs give President Pavel higher marks than Zeman

A new poll by STEM/MARK gives Czech President Petr Pavel higher marks than his predecessor Miloš Zeman in key areas. Pavel received his best rating for public speaking and advocating for Czech interests abroad, and his lowest for resolving domestic political disputes. However, analysts noted the poll did not define these disputes.

Overall, Pavel averaged a score between two and three on a scale of one to five, with one being best. Zeman, who faced criticism late in his two terms, averaged a four. Younger, more educated, and urban Czechs tended to view Pavel more positively compared to older, less educated, and rural citizens polled.

Security Germany to extend border controls with Czechia

Germany will extend border controls with the Czech Republic, Poland, and Switzerland by at least two additional months, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told the Rheinische Post. Stationary inspections approved until Dec.15 will now continue, she said, convinced the measures work.

Since introducing controls on Oct. 16, federal police at the borders have detained around 120 smugglers and detected over 9,200 unauthorized crossings, according to Faeser. Germany justified the initial controls by aiming to limit illegal migration. Faeser also emphasized efforts to minimize trade, tourism, and work impacts from the extended controls.

Health Czech lawmakers move to restrict sales of energy drinks

Members of the Czech Republic's health committee have agreed to draft legislation regulating the sale of energy drinks to minors. The bill would ban caffeinated energy drinks for those under 15, and limit drinks' caffeine, taurine, and sugar contents.

A mandatory industry fund would finance obesity and diabetes treatment. The coalition and opposition support the measure, which committee members expect to pass this session. Draft rules would prohibit energy drink placement near child-focused goods and require non-child-appealing labels. Experts tied the bill to concerns one in 10 Czech youth risk health issues due to frequent energy drink consumption.

Politics Meeting of V4 defense ministers continues in Prague today

The meeting of defense ministers from the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary) and Central European Defense Cooperation (CEDC) continues today in Prague. The ministers will discuss security in Ukraine and the Middle East and its effects on Central Europe and the Balkans.

The Czech Republic is chairing CEDC this year. Defense ministers from 13 nations in total are taking part, including Western Balkan states, the first such joint meeting hosted by the Czech Republic. On Thursday, the Czech defense minister welcomed V4 counterparts to lay a wreath and tour an army museum, kicking off the two-day conference.

Culture Baroque in Bohemia and Bavaria opens Friday at National Museum

Visitors to the National Museum in Prague can view an exhibition Friday focusing on the Baroque period between Bohemia and Bavaria from 1720-1820. With 218 items on loan from 54 Czech and 33 foreign institutions, the exhibition explores the shared cultural space, despite political conflicts.

Divided into six sections on fields like art, architecture, music, and science, it highlights both commonalities and divisions in the "time of darkness and light." The exhibition was presented by directors from the National Museum and House of Bavarian History, which previously hosted it. Interactive elements accompany lectures and tours through May 8th examining the cultural bonds between the neighbors.

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