Eighty-six deputies from eight parties in the lower house have put their
signatures to a proposal to loosen a ban on smoking at Czech pubs,
restaurants and other facilities introduced last year. The amendment has
been written by Marek Benda of the Civic Democrats and envisages the
creation of separate smoking areas with their own ventilation systems in
hostelries and other spots.
Mr. Benda’s proposal would also allow bars of 80 square metres or less to decide themselves whether to allow smoking or not.
The smoking ban came in at the end of May last year, bringing the Czech Republic into line with many other EU states.
The Czech prime minister in resignation, Andrej Babiš, has definitively
lost a long-running dispute with Slovakia’s National Memory Institute.
The Regional Court in Bratislava on Tuesday rejected a petition from Mr.
Babiš, who argued that he was wrongly listed as an agent of
Czechoslovakia’s communist-era secret police in the records of the
Institute, which handles historical archives.
The case was being reheard after the Slovak Constitutional Court last year overturned verdicts from other courts, which had originally accepted Mr. Babiš’s assertion that he had been incorrectly listed as an StB agent.
Almost one in 10 Czechs over the age of 15 are under some form of
distraint, under which their property is seized to obtain rent or other
money they owe. What's more, over 150,000 people are facing 10 or more
distraint orders, according to a map focused on the issue produced by the
association Open Society.
The level of distraint has become worse in 12 of the Czech Republic’s 14 regions, the makers of the map said on Tuesday at a presentation of their findings on Tuesday.
The number of people facing distraint grew last year by 3.4 percent, said map author Radek Hábl. He said record low unemployment and growing wages were not helping people out of debt traps due to high interest rates on loans.
The prime minister in resignation, Andrej Babiš, has invited Prague taxi
drivers protesting against Uber to meet him and other cabinet members on
Wednesday. Taxi drivers have held three demonstrations in the capital in
recent days against services such as Uber, which they consider unfair
Mr. Babiš has also invited the minister of transport, Dan Ťok, and the minister of industry and trade, Tomáš Hüner, to attend the meeting, which will take place at the Office of the Government after a cabinet session.
The Czech economy’s current account balance of payments ended in a record
surplus of CZK 63.4 billion last year, according to preliminary figures
released on Tuesday by the Czech National Bank. The current account balance
of payments is a measure of a country’s total transactions with other
2017 was the fourth year of surplus in succession. This is the first such period; from the foundation of the Czech Republic until 2013 the current account balance was consistently in deficit.
The Czech minister of defence, Karla Šlechtová, wants to see “defence
education” return to the curriculum of elementary and secondary schools,
iDnes.cz reported on Tuesday. Such teaching was discontinued in the early
1990s following the fall of communism.
Minister Šlechtová told iDnes.cz that the Ministry of Defence had research which showed that Czech children did not know how to behave if, for instance, there was a shooter at their school. The minister also said they would learn “what it means to be a Czech”.
The reintroduction of defence education is one of the ANO government in resignation’s programme priorities.
A group of Czech Roman Catholics have written to Pope Francis in Rome
asking him not to extend the mandate of the current archbishop of Prague,
Cardinal Dominik Duka, the news website iDnes.cz reported. At the end of
April the head of the Czech Church turns 75, the age at which bishops are
obliged to offer their resignation; it is then up to the pontiff to decide
whether to ask them to continue serving the Church.
The letter was signed by around 100 lay Catholics. A representative of the group told iDnes.cz that it also had the support of some priests. A spokesperson for the Prague Archbishopric said Cardinal Duka could not respond as he had not yet read the document.
Taxi drivers assembled in Prague on Monday for further protests against
services such as Uber. Scores of taxis converged at Strahov Stadium in the
afternoon before driving into the city centre, where they caused
cojsiderable traffic holdups.
On Thursday and Friday last week hundreds of taxi drivers drove through central Prague in demonstrations that they said were aimed at making clear to the government their grievances about Uber and similar services, which they regard as unfair competition.
The Czech Republic’s two medal winners so far at the Winter Olympics in
Pyeongchang have missed out on chances to reach the podium again. Veronika
Vítková came third in the biathlon sprint for the Czechs’ first medal
on Saturday but could only come seventh in the pursuit event on Monday.
It was a similar story for Michal Krčmář. He took silver in the men’s biathlon sprint but finished way down the field in the pursuit after making numerous errors in shooting.