Daily news summary

Czech foreign minister: Britain will remain important ally and business partner even post-Brexit

Britain will remain an important ally and business partner for the Czech Republic despite its departure from the EU, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said on Britain’s last day in the alliance.

In a video posted on Twitter, Petříček described Britain as a close partner and ally, who had assisted the Czech Republic on the way to EU membership.

He expressed the hope that the two countries would continue to cooperate closely in the areas of business, cyber security, research and environmental protection as well as fostering strong people-to-people contacts.

Having studied in Great Britain, the country has grown close to my heart, I hope its departure from the EU will not put a distance between us, Petříček said.

Czech Republic no longer granting visas to Chinese nationals

The Czech Republic has become the first Schengen country to stop granting visas to Chinese nationals.

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček told journalists the Czech Republic had suspended the issuing of visas on January 29 and Czech visa centres in China were closed until further notice.

The minister also confirmed that negotiations were underway on further measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to this country.

In a related development, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Thursday evening that unless negotiations with partner states to try to get Czech nationals out of Wuhan produced results by Saturday, the Czech Republic would send a government plane for them. The Czech Republic has five Czech nationals in the city who wish to return home.

Health minister: All 34 coronavirus tests negative

The Czech Republic has so far tested 34 cases of suspected coronavirus with all results negative, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch reported on Friday. Currently no further suspected cases have been reported.

In response to the WHO declaring a state of public health emergency, the Czech Republic introduced screening at all Czech international airports, whereas previously they were in effect only at Prague’s main airport.

The Czech government is to meet on Monday to debate banning all direct flights from China. The health minister said he considered such a move legitimate.

Senate urges Czech gov't not to further restrict legal gun ownership

The Senate narrowly passed a resolution on Thursday urging the government not to restrict legal gun ownership when implementing the European Union weapons directive.

The resolution, which argues the Czech Weapons Act sufficiently regulates gun ownership in the country, came in response to a petition signed by nearly 100,000 citizens.

Under current legislation, firearms can be licensed to people who have a clean criminal record, pass a gun proficiency test and undergo a medical examination.

Unlike in most EU countries, the Czech Republic allows for the concealed carry of firearms for self-defence.

Police charge man who threatened Parliament guards with knife

The police have filed charges against a 31-year-old man who was detained after trying to force his way into the Czech Chamber of Deputies on Thursday.

The incident happened when the chamber was in session and the man reportedly threatened the guards with a knife. He was apprehended and remains in custody.

The man faces up to four years in prison for violence against a public official. The motive behind his actions remains unclear.

Fourth annual Czech ‘Hotel Night’ offers discounts to locals

Some 155 Czech hotels and pensions are taking part in the fourth annual ‘Hotel Night’ promotion that gives big discounts to locals.

More than 2,000 rooms in Prague, Brno, Olomouc, Karlovy Vary, Ostrava and other cities are available through the promotion.

The Czech Association of Hotels and Restaurants holds the annual event as a thank-you to locals in heavily touristed areas.

It also aims to show how much the sector benefits the economy and inform locals of job opportunities.

Weather forecast

Saturday should be partly cloudy to overcast with rain and day temperatures between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius.