Czech politics goes to dogs: anti-PES restauranteurs to form political party focused on re-opening pubs

The group said in a press conference on Tuesday their political movement is a response to COVID restrictions.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 20.01.2021 10:42 (updated on 20.01.2021)

The Chcipl PES (PES/DOG Croaked) group of restaurant owners, who have been protesting against the government COVID lockdown measures, wants to establish a political movement, the organizers announced at a press conference in Prague.

Restaurants will become political cells in the new movement entitled "We Will Open Czechia- PES/DOG Croaked," whose name hints at the currently applied PES anti-epidemic system.

They say the government has declared war on the rebellious restaurants by including a condition for drawing subsidies from the COVID gastro program, under which only those who have never violated the government rules are entitled to support.

A provision on the observance of the government restriction is a standard part of all subsidy programs, the Industry and Trade Ministry said. Its spokeswoman Stepanka Filipova pointed out that subsidies cannot be given to someone violating the rules.

One of the group founders, former Civic Democrat (ODS) MP Jiri Janecek, the owner of the Maly Janek brewery and restaurant in Central Bohemia, said the movement's primary task was not to run in elections.

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"This is a response to the restrictions of this government that refuses to talk with us, and it is only rescuing itself," Janecek said.

A petition necessary for the establishment of a political movement will be available for signatures in every restaurant that backs the initiative. Restaurants and other establishments will be denoted as the movement's political cells, in which meetings with citizens can be held freely and no authority can restrict this, the organizers point out.

The group is not planning any mass pressure events now as the previous rally staged in Old Town Square in Prague center in January. Some 30 to 50 restaurants and pubs are open so far and further ones have ever violated the government lockdown, Seberak restaurant owner Jakub Olbert said. All restaurants supporting the initiative should open on Saturday, Jan. 23, he added.

The rebelling restaurant owners do not want to lie and say they never violated the measures as they did so openly as an act of defiance, Janecek said, adding that the government subsidy program was restrictive towards them.

Within the COVID gastro program, restaurants and other establishments closed due to the coronavirus pandemic are entitled to a subsidy of CZK 400 a day per employee for all days they had to be closed, from Oct. 9, 2020, until Jan. 10, 2021.

At least three adult citizens of the Czech Republic can found a political party or movement. They first create a preparatory committee. As a registration condition, they must submit a petition signed by at least 1,000 citizens in support of the party or movement establishment to the Interior Ministry.