Czech police have relaxed some of the special security measures put in place after the Berlin truck attack on a Christmas market. From Friday special police patrols will be reduced gradually and protective barriers will also disappear from highly frequented sites. The level one security alert, in place since the Brussels attacks in March last year, will remain in place though. The Czech Republic has a zero to four security scale with four representing the highest terror alert.
The US ambassador to Prague, Andrew Schapiro, will leave his post by January 20, ahead of the inauguration of Donald Trump as the new US president, Czech media have reported citing a story in the New York Times. The paper said that politically appointed, rather than diplomatic ambassadors, have not been given an extra few weeks in their postings after the new head of state is sworn in. Schapiro became ambassador in September 2014. He is best known for a series of clashes with Czech head of state, president Miloš Zeman. In the last incident Zeman accused Schapiro wrongly of shunning national day celebrations and later he had to make a grudging apology. Trump’s Czech born wife, Ivana, has said she would like to be the new ambassador in Prague.
The Czech Republic’s trade surplus in November rose to 10.8 billion crowns, an increase of 1.1 billion crowns on the same month in 2015. The surplus for the first 11 months of the year now stands at 190 billion crowns, around 58 billion crowns more than during the same period in 2015. The country faced a bigger bill for imported oil and a slowdown in the rate of increased production of cars and other transport equipment during the month.
Intervention by the Czech National Bank to keep the crown low against the euro reduced in November compared to the previous month. The bank intervened to the tune of 14 billion crowns to buy up euros to keep the crown at or below the rate of 27 crowns to the euro, it announced on Friday. In October, the intervention volume reached 107 billion crowns, the second highest monthly total since the low crown regime was launched at the end of 2013. The national bank expects to pull out of the low crown regime from the middle of this year. Separately, the bank announced that its euro reserves climbed by 21.7 billion euros in 2016.
Industrial production bounced back in November with an overall rise in output of 7 percent. When adjusted for the number of working days, the rise falls back to 4.5 percent. Production of cars and other transport equipment rose by just over 15 percent but there was also an 8.5 percent decrease in production of pharmaceutical drugs. The value of new orders rose by 10.7 compared with the same month a year earlier. And the industrial workforce in firms with more than 50 workers rose by 2.1 percent on November 2015.
There were mixed messages about the state of the Czech construction sector in November last year. Output in construction was down 2.3 percent on November 2015. But the number of building permits climbed by 5.7 percent and the value of construction projects in the pipeline was up by just over 18 percent. The total of new dwellings launched was up by a third compared with the previous period and dwellings completed up by almost 10 percent.
The traditional processions of Three Kings, which marks the end of the Christmas festivities, will take place across the Czech Republic on Friday. In Prague, the procession will make its way from Malostranské náměstí across Charles Bridge to the Old Town Square. The event, organised by Prague Archdiocese, is traditionally linked to charities with children dressed as the three kings collecting money for the needy. The 17th edition of the charity collection has been underway since Monday.
The number of Czechs suffering from dementia has doubled since 1990, exceeding 150,000, according to a report on dementia issued by the Czech Alzheimer Society on Thursday. The number of people with dementia has been projected at more than 180,000 by 2020 due to the population ageing. According to data of the Czech Statistics Office, people over 65 make up almost one-fifth of the 10.5-million population of the country. Experts say the Czech Republic lags behind advanced countries in terms of care for these patients.
The weather on Saturday will mostly be clear though snow might be expected in the west and north of the country. Daytime temperatures will range between minus 6 and minus 10 degrees Celsius with temperatures down to minus 13 degrees on high ground in the east of the country.