The Czech government has approved raising the state budget deficit for this
year to a record CZK 300 billion in view of the coronavirus crisis. At the
end of last month the Chamber of Deputies voted to increase this year’s
budget deficit to CZK 200 billion from the previously planned CZK 40
On Monday the cabinet also agreed to continue providing CZK 500 a day as a one-off contribution to the self-employed after the previously agreed date of April 30. The system will remain in place until the end of June. The Ministry of Finance previously said that up to 700,000 people could apply for this money.
Russia has denied responsibility for a series of cyber attacks on medical
facilities in the Czech Republic. After reports in the Czech media linking
the attacks to Russia, the country’s embassy in Prague said in a
statement that it was a fabrication and open provocation. It also accused
the Czech secret services of feeding information blaming Moscow to domestic
On Friday the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said his country was concerned about cyber attacks against Czech hospitals that had taken place in the preceding days, which he said could cause deadly results during the coronavirus crisis.
Police in Prague said they had investigated nearly 2,500 misdemeanors at
the weekend linked to measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus. A
spokesperson said the most frequent issue had been people not covering
their mouth and nose, which is now compulsory. In almost all cases a
warning was enough to resolve the situation.
Members of the public called a police hotline to report young people in parks and homeless people not wearing masks. They also complained about cyclists not covering their faces in crowded spots.
The head of the Czech Republic’s coronavirus task force, Jan Hamáček,
says that if the current state of emergency is not extended beyond April 30
it could cause a number of complications. Mr. Hamáček, who is also
interior minister, said on Monday that it would no longer be possible, for
instance, to purchase protective equipment centrally or to control the
regime at the country’s borders.
An initial 30-day state of emergency imposed by the government on March 12 was extended by MPs until the end of April. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš had been seeking another 30-day period.
The majority of professional soccer players in the Czech Republic returned
to limited training on Monday, over a month after the coronavirus situation
forced them to begin doing individual training at home. The footballers
have begun training in groups of eight or fewer at many clubs and must
adhere to strict hygiene guidelines.
There are six rounds of the domestic top flight league remaining. Those games are due to be followed by a “superstructure” in which the table is divided into three sections and teams play one another to decide the final order.
Some restrictions imposed to help combat the spread of Covid-19 were lifted
in the Czech Republic on Monday. In the first stage of a road map unveiled
by the government last week, workshops operated by various artisans,
farmers’ markets, car showrooms and car repair centres are now allowed to
open, provided they meet certain hygiene criteria.
From next Monday shops under 200 square metres not in shopping malls will be allowed to reopen. On May 11 the same will apply to shops of over 1,000 square metres. More services will resume on May 27 while on June 8 shopping malls, restaurants and hotels will open again.
First year university students were also allowed to return on Monday for tuition in small groups.
Work on the remodeling of Prague’s Wenceslas Square got underway on
Monday. The first part of the project envisages the enlargement of the
pedestrian zone in the lower part of the city’s main thoroughfare, with
more trees and less space for cars planned.
The renovation of the section of the square from Můstek at the very bottom to where trams cross from Vodičková St. to Jindřišská St. will cost CZK 330 million and should be finished by the end of next year.
The studio Cigler Marani Architects won a competition to remodel Wenceslas Square in 2005 but it has taken until now for the project to begin.
President Miloš Zeman says that the Czech Republic’s borders should be
shut for one year. Speaking in a radio interview on Sunday evening, the
head of state recommended that instead of travelling abroad Czechs should
savour the beauties of their country’s landscape, adding that he himself
would spend the summer in the Vysočina Region.
The minister of health, Adam Vojtěch, said on Saturday that the kind of international travel familiar from before the coronavirus crisis would not be an option for Czechs this summer.
The Czech government will on Monday discuss easing restrictions on the
country’s borders for the purposes of work and business, says the
minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček. Speaking on Czech
Television on Sunday, he said that loosening restrictions for tourists
would require coordination with the whole of the European Union and would
depend on the situation in individual states in connection with Covid-19.
Mr. Petříček said that now there was greater opportunity to test for the coronavirus the Czech Republic’s borders could be opened in such a way that cross-border workers would not need, as they do at present, to go into quarantine after travelling abroad.
However, he said that Poland, for instance, was stricter on its citizens crossing the border to work in the Czech Republic than the Prague government was in this regard.