Czech news in brief for November 2: Thursday's top headlines

Energy prices set to rise, debate on same-sex marriage suspended, and more top headlines for Nov. 2, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 02.11.2023 08:49:00 (updated on 02.11.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

transport Electricity prices could push up public transport costs

The upcoming increase in regulated energy prices in the Czech Republic will lead to higher costs for public transport, particularly trams and trolleybuses. The Association of Transport Companies warns that this will burden municipal budgets. The chairman of the association criticized the proposed change in the electricity market rules, stating that it would increase electricity distribution costs significantly.

The Energy Regulatory Office's proposal would result in a 71 percent increase in the regulated component of electricity prices for households. The Chamber of Commerce also expressed concerns about the impact on energy-intensive industries, stating that costs could triple and weaken competitiveness.

animals Safari Park Dvůr Králové welcomes female baby hyena

Safari Park Dvůr Králové announced on Instagram the birth of a female baby hyena, born at an unusual time of the year. The female is the first descendant of a new line that includes father Eddie, which arrived this year from Sweden, and mother Emili, which was born in Safari Park Dvůr Králové.

The zoo, known for its successful breeding program, supports hyenas both in captivity and in the wild. The mammals are considered an endangered species.

science Czech researchers find microplastics in human amniotic fluid

Researchers from Ostrava University Hospital and Ostrava Technical University have discovered microplastics in human amniotic fluid and placenta. The team is now investigating how these substances can affect the fetus and pregnancy. They claim to be the first in the world to demonstrate microplastics in these areas.

The discovery is surprising as the placenta was previously assumed to protect the fetus from harmful substances. While the researchers found that microplastics led to complications in mice pregnancies, they aim to confirm these findings in humans. The study was published in the Chemosphere journal.

society St. Martin brings record number of wine bottles

The Czech market will see the release of 2.78 million bottles of St. Martin's wines this year, the highest number since 2005. Last year, there were 2.35 million bottles available, compared to two million a decade ago. President of the Winery Union Ondřej Beránek mentioned that winemakers will experience a 10 to 20 percent decrease in grape harvest this year due to temperature extremes.

The warm weather during the harvest period prompted night harvesting to avoid exposing the grapes to high temperatures. The St. Martin trademark, owned by the Winery Union, will see 326 wines from 76 companies available this year.

economy Fuel prices continue drop after months of increases

Fuel prices in the Czech Republic have been steadily declining for several consecutive weeks. The price of the best-selling Natural 95 gasoline has dropped to an average of 38.85 CZK/liter since last Wednesday. Similarly, a liter of diesel is now sold for an average of CZK 39.41.

This decrease in fuel prices began in early October after four months of price increases. Analysts expect the downward trend to continue in the coming week. Factors such as stable oil prices, wholesale fuel prices, and the stabilizing Czech crown have contributed to the recent price reduction.

weather The weekend will bring rainy, windy weather

The Czech Republic will experience windy and rainy weather at the end of the week, with a strong wind warning issued for several regions. Temperatures will range from 11 to 15 degrees Celsius today, with the possibility of reaching 17 degrees in some areas. On Friday, there will be rain and possibly snow in Šumava.

Temperatures will drop to 5 to 9 degrees Celsius at night and range from 6 to 11 degrees Celsius on Friday during the day. The weekend will bring occasional showers and temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius. Changeable weather is expected in the following week, with local showers and possible snow in the mountains.

Legislation Czech gay rights bill splits over the word 'marriage'

A group of MPs from the Czech Constitutional and Legal Committee has proposed an amendment to the Civil Code, introducing official unions for same-sex couples that would provide them with the same rights and obligations as married couples. However, the unions would be called "partnerships" rather than marriages.

The move aims to address the rights of gay couples, except for the title of marriage. Another amendment has been considered to exclude adoption rights for same-sex couples, reflecting the ongoing societal and political debate. The committee adjourned discussions on these amendments, which may be brought to the House of Representatives for a broader consensus.

Economy Energy costs set to rise for ČEZ customers

Electricity costs are set to increase for most customers of the ČEZ energy group, following a proposal by the Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ) to raise the regulated part by up to 70 percent. Over 40 percent of customers without fixed-price contracts may see an overall invoice increase of around one to two percent.

However, those with fixed-price contracts, particularly those fixed years ago before the energy crisis, may face substantial price hikes of tens of percent. The ERÚ's proposal calls for a 71 percent year-on-year increase in the regulated component of the electricity price, affecting both residential and industrial users.

Salvation Army Public can now buy housing vouchers for homeless

The Salvation Army in Czechia has launched its annual initiative to assist the homeless during the winter season. People can purchase CZK-100 vouchers for one night's stay in a Salvation Army hostel, which includes a warm meal, a hot drink, and access to shower facilities.

This marks the eighth year of the program, with 2,500 available spaces in night shelters across multiple cities, including Prague, Brno, Karlovy Vary, and more. The initiative has seen significant support in recent years, with up to 50,000 vouchers collected in 2021, demonstrating solidarity and raising awareness about homelessness in Czechia.

Education School unions prepare for Nov. 27 protest

The Czech-Moravian Trade Union of Education Workers' regional presidents and professional sections will decide the format of a protest scheduled for Nov. 27 due to concerns over an insufficient budget for regional education next year. The unions contemplate a possible strike to address issues related to non-teaching staff's earnings, facing a 2 percent reduction in funding, impacting roles like cooks, housekeepers, school psychologists, and IT workers.

To sustain operations, school principals may have to use funds meant for teacher salaries. The cost of improving non-teaching staff salaries is estimated at CZK 4 to 9 billion. Education Minister Mikuláš Bek seeks to minimize the impact on non-teaching staff and assures critical functions won't be compromised. The proposed education budget for next year is CZK 269 billion with plans to increase teacher salaries by an average of CZK 2,500.

Economy Volkswagen postpones gigafactory decision

The Volkswagen Group (VW) has postponed a decision on constructing a new gigafactory for electric car batteries, including one in the Czech Republic near Pilsen. The delay is attributed to the slower adoption of electric mobility. The government was prepared to invest in the project, but local opposition and issues at the reserve army airport site led to the rejection of the gigafactory.

The state is now negotiating with five potential investors for the site, with two projects on a similar scale to the VW gigafactory. Volkswagen has selected other locations for battery cell production, impacting the need for a new gigafactory in Europe.

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