Now it's not just to enjoy Prague's Renaissance and Baroque glories that millions of tourists flock to the Czech capital every year. Of course, many also come for the beer, but some are more interested in Baroque contours of a rather different kind. You don't have to go far before you encounter offers of erotic services to cater for every taste imaginable. The City Hall has now had enough, and decided to sweep away all these very public invitations to indulge the pleasures of the flesh from the city's streets.
Prague's touristy Wenceslas Square lives round the clock. When the shops close, the casinos take over and also establishments euphemistically called "cabarets" and "discos". You cannot miss them. The large self-explanatory photos in the street-level windows and blinds in the windows on the upper floors leave the passer-by in no doubt as to what goes on inside. But as if that was not enough promotion, until recently young men with leaflets in their hands stood around the centre of Prague, scanning the crowd for potential clients and shoving invitations to the erotic night-clubs into their hands.
This should now be a thing of the past, as on June 1st, a by-law came into effect, banning all erotic advertising from the city. The City Hall agreed the situation was a disgrace and the touts bothering both Prague citizens and tourists cast a bad light on the capital. Indeed, in the last few days the touts hanging around Wenceslas Square have virtually disappeared. But still during a raid on the first night of the new regulations police encountered people trying to lure customers verbally.
On the first day and night, police reported around 50 offences, mainly concerning billboards and in one case a limousine featuring the name and logo of one of the clubs parked in front of it. Eleven people were fined on the spot and 40 other cases were reported to trade offices who can fine individuals up to 100,000 crowns (around 4,000 dollars) and businesses twice as much.
The City Hall isn't allowed to ban erotic advertising from the city altogether, so they have carefully got round that one by allowing the billboards and posters to remain on one street - the road that leads to Prague's main refuse dump in the outer suburb of Dablice.
It's still early to tell whether the by-law really can keep the oldest trade under control in the centre of Prague. Anyway - the red and white limo that was two days ago found in breech of the by-law - is again back in its old place.
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