Daily news summary

Central bank rebuffs PM’s advice

The Czech National Bank has objected to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s words that it could share its profit with the state at this time of crisis and could further reduce interest rates.

The central bank responded via its spokesperson Marketa Fišerová who emphasized that the bank is independent of the government in moulding its monetary policy.

She further noted that it is not clear what profit the prime minister had in mind since the bank board had already agreed to use last year's profit of CZK 57.9 billion to cover part of the accounting losses from previous years.

Asked by journalists how the state would raise money for the economic losses incurred by the coronavirus crisis Mr. Babiš noted that Czech banks are in excellent shape.

"The central bank has huge reserves, it could share a little profit with us, by further lowering the basic interest rate," the prime minister said. He also praised the fact that the country had not joined the single currency and was still using the crown.

Self-employed to receive government support in May

Self-employed entrepreneurs affected by the government restrictions taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus epidemic will receive a one-off contribution of CZK 15,000 from the state in May, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said in an interview for the daily Právo.

The prime minister said the government was also counting on a financial contribution in June if necessary. For the period from March 12 to April 30, the contribution is CZK 25,000.

According to the government’s reopening timetable some establishments will remain closed for longer. For example, hairdressers will not be able to reopen until May 25, theatres or hotels until June 8.

Teaching Hospital in Ostrava deflates cyberattack

The Teaching Hospital in Ostrava managed to deflect a cyber-attack on one of its servers on Thursday night, its spokeswoman Petra Petlachová told reporters on Friday. She said a similar attempt by hackers had been deflated several days ago.

The National Office for Cyber and Information Security (NÚKIB) on Thursday issued a warning about possible attacks on the computer systems of hospitals and other important targets, issuing a set of comprehensive recommendations for devices that may be at risk.

The coronavirus crisis has unleashed a wave of attacks on similar targets worldwide.

Coronavirus victims at 170

The number of registered COVID 19 cases rose to 6,437 on Friday morning, up by 132 on Thursday. 170 people have died and 979 have recovered from the infection. 407 patients are currently hospitalized with then infection, 82 of the need intensive care. Over 154,000 people have been tested to date.

Government to gradually ease ban on public masses

The government may allow church services to take place from April 27 under strict hygiene conditions, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said in an interview for Radio Z on Friday.

According to a proposal that has been consulted with Cardinal Dominik Duka, public masses could initially be attended by no more than 15 persons, from May 11 by thirty and from May 25 by a maximum of 50 people, respecting hygiene rules and distancing advice. As of June 8, church services would no longer be limited as to the number of participants.

The prime minister said the proposal still had to be approved by the government but had already received a nod from Health Minister Adam Vojtěch and the country’s leading epidemiologist Roman Prymula.

CRIF: a third of Czech businesses hit by restrictions

Government measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus have affected 90,000 to 127,000 businesses and 145,000 to 299,000 entrepreneurs directly or indirectly, according to the results of a poll conducted by the Czech Credit Bureau(CRIF).

A third of Czech firms and the same share of entrepreneurs are affected directly, meaning they were forced to close down their operations.

The worst hit is the Karlovy Vary Region, where up to 44 per cent of firms and 42 per cent of entrepreneurs were hit by the restrictions.

The hardest hit are the smallest companies with an annual turnover of up to one million crowns. Another 37,000 (10 percent) companies and 154,000 (17 percent) entrepreneurs have been partially affected.

They were not forced to close down their operations, but sustained losses due to a significant drop in sales as a result of the restrictions on the movement of persons.

Police investigating suspected suicide at Motol Hospital

Police are investigating the death by shooting of a 75-year-old man in Prague’s Motol Hospital. The man, who was suffering from cancer in a terminal stage of the disease, is believed to have shot himself in the early hours of Friday. It is not clear how he obtained the weapon. The police have ruled out speculation that the death was linked to the coronavirus epidemic.

Weather forecast

Saturday should be clear to partly cloudy with rain in the south-western parts of the country and day temperatures between17 and 21 degrees.