Czech news for March 6: Presidential flag lowers on Zeman's term this week

Plus: Highly anticipated Prague pedestrian footbridge is facing delays and Czech PM speaks out on regulatory healthcare fees.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 04.03.2023 10:00:00 (updated on 06.03.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

Monday, March 6, 2023

PRAGUE Pedestrian footbridge connecting Prague districts delayed

According to the website of the Prague 8 district, the construction of the footbridge connecting Karlín and Holešovice has been delayed due to the existence of more complicated geological conditions in the navigation channel than expected. 

The exact date, which will be in the first half of this year, will be determined by the technical supervision of the construction, Deputy Mayor Zdeněk Hřib told ČTK. Initially, the city planned to open the bridge in February or March this year. Until the footbridge is completed, ferry operation will resume on Saturday, March 25 after a winter break.

HEALTH PM Fiala: Czech govt. won't introduce doctor fees

Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in an interview on Czech television Sunday that the government will not introduce general regulatory fees for doctors. According to the PM, the health ministry had previously only discussed emergency room fees.

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Czechs started paying regulatory fees for doctor's appointments, prescriptions, hospital stays, and emergency visits in 2008. Individual fees then changed over time and disappeared. Since January 2015, the obligation to pay CZK 30 in ambulances and pharmacies ended leaving only the CZK 90 emergency fee. Read more in our full story here.

Politics Zeman's term to end this week with lowering of presidential flag

The second and final mandate of outgoing Czech President Miloš Zeman will end with the ceremonial lowering of the presidential standard at midnight from March 8 to 9, the presidential office head told ČTK. The Gate of Titans, the main entrance to Prague Castle, will be closed to signal that the post is empty until the inauguration of the new president, Petr Pavel, who will be sworn into office in the afternoon on March 9. Once Pavel takes his oath, the gate will re-open.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Film Il Boemo named Best Picture at 2023 Czech Lion Awards

Il Boemo has led all nominated films at the 2023 Czech Lion Awards, the Czech version of the Oscars, which were handed out yesterday during a ceremony at Prague's Rudolfinum. Director Petr Václav's historical drama about an 18th century Czech composer won six awards including Best Film and Best Director. Il Boemo is currently screening with English subtitles on Netflix in the Czech Republic.

Il Boemo also won Czech Lions for Sound, Costumes, Makeup, and Production Design. Arvéd, which led all nominations with 12, came away with three Czech Lions for Actor (Michal Kern), Screenplay, and Music. Klára Melíšková won Best Actress for the TV miniseries Suspicion.

Economy Czech food prices rose by nearly 20 percent in January

Food prices in the Czech Republic continue to soar. According to data from Eurostat provided to Právo, the cost of food, alcohol, and tobacco products rose by an average of 19.6 percent year-on-year in January. That was one of the highest percentage rises across the EU, where the price of food products rose by an average of 15.5 percent.

Among Czech neighbors, food prices in Poland, Germany, and Austria saw lower percentage rises than the Czech Republic, while prices in Slovakia were up a whopping 23 percent. Poland temporarily removed value added tax on food products last year to combat surging prices, but Czech officials nixed proposals to do the same; VAT on food products in the country remains 15 percent.

Sports Czech figure skaters win Junior World Championships

Czech siblings Daniel Mrázek and Kateřina Mrázkova won the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in the Ice Dance category on Saturday in Calgary, Canada. Nineteen-year-old and his sixteen-year-old sister have been skating together for the past two-and-a-half years, and finished third at the Junior Grand Prix earlier this season.

"It's beautiful to be junior world champions. I still don't believe it 100 percent," Mrázek told reporters after their victory. "We are very happy to have achieved the goals we set before the start of the season. This success is a huge motivation for us to do the same at the senior level," added his sister.

Film Prague says goodbye to director Juraj Jakubisko at St. Vitus Cathedral

Friends and family of Slovak director and longtime Prague resident Juraj Jakubisko, who passed away last weekend at the age of 84, said goodbye to the filmmaker during a memorial at St. Vitus Cathedral within the Prague Castle complex on Saturday. Among those who attended the ceremony were former Czech president Václav Klaus and Prague Cardinal Dominik Duka.

"I think we are all very 'down to earth' here," director and cinematographer FA Brabec, who worked with Jakubisko on the 2008 film Bathory, told reporters from the mass. "Few people have succeeded as he did. He was able to poeticize the real world in such a way that it was much more interesting and creative."

Law Czech MPs agree to cut down expected pension increase

After a lengthy session that lasted a total of nearly 100 hours last week, the Czech Chamber of Deputies have agreed on a bill that will reduce the expected increase in Czech pensions. Pensions will now rise by CZK 760 in June instead of the expected CZK 1,770, which would have been in line with the Czech rate of inflation as dictated by law.

The pension debate began on Tuesday morning and ran through Saturday, with few breaks in-between. Opposition MPs from the ANO and SPD parties fought to block the bill's passage, while those in favor of the bill claimed that the pension increase was not in line with Czech salaries and would place an undue burden on state finances.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Politics Anti-tank guns to inaugurate new president Pavel on Thursday

The Czech Republic's new president Petr Pavel will officially be inaugurated into office on Thursday, March 9 at Prague Castle. His inauguration will be accompanied by artillery fire from four anti-tank guns location on nearby Petřín Hill, Vlastimila Cyprisová from the press department of General Staff of the Czech Army told Czech News Agency.

The four anti-tank guns will be loaded with 42 rounds of modified ammunition and fired two at a time, giving the new president a 21-gun salute. While Pavel is a retired general, the artillery fire is not special; former president Miloš Zeman was also inaugurated with a 21-gun salute from the same anti-tank guns. Soldiers will also stand with historical banners at Hradčanské náměstí during Pavel's inauguration, under the statue of first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk.

Politics Head of Czech Presidential Office resigns

Vratislav Mynář, head of the Czech Republic's Presidential Office under outgoing president Miloš Zeman, has officially announced his resignation from the office ahead of the inauguration of new president Petr Pavel. Mynář told Czech News Agency that he would resign his post on the morning of March 9, ahead of Pavel's inauguration.

"I will resign from my post of the KPR head on March 9," Mynář stated, adding that he expects this to happen on Thursday morning before the inauguration of Pavel. He also states that he would not attend Pavel's inauguration. Mynář added that he would not seek any new post in the state administration following his resignation.

Accident Nine-year-old girl loses leg after being struck by Prague tram

A nine-year-old girl has lost her leg after being hit by a tram in central Prague on Friday evening, the city's Medical Rescue Services have tweeted. A passing doctor helped save the girl's life by making a tourniquet on the spot; she has since been placed into an artificial coma. Due to the accident, trams in the area around Jindřiška street were halted for about half an hour.

Another girl was also struck by the tram, and suffered minor injuries, while an adult woman experienced an acute stress reaction. Rescuers later thanked the unidentified doctor on social media. "He immediately took off his belt and used it to make an improvised tourniquet," they stated. "And even after our arrival, he helped us take care of the seriously injured little girl. Unknown doctor, thank you very much."

Law Czech Chamber of Deputies continues lengthy debate on pensions

The Czech Chamber of Deputies has resumed talks on a controversial pension bill on Saturday morning. The talks began on Tuesday and ran for 69 hours without a break until officials disbanded on Friday evening. Under the new bill, Czech pensions would increase by CZK 760 from June instead of the expected increase of CZK 1770, which would be in line with the current law regarding pension increases and the Czech rate of inflation.

Officials in favor of the new bill claim that the expected pension increase would put undue burden on the state's finances, and isn't in line with the rise in the country's average wages. Should the bill pass, the state would save an estimated CZK 19.4 billion in 2023 and CZK 33 billion in 2024.

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