Daily news summary

Czech Army deploys 1,000 soldiers to NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force

With the arrival of the New Year, the Czech Army has deployed 1,000 soldiers to NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, the army said in a statement on Thursday. The Czech soldiers will be on alert for the entirety of 2020 and must be able to take action in a crisis situation within five days.

Commander Petr Blecha said the Czechs had been preparing intensively to play a role in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force since 2018. The task force was created following the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Czechs enjoying must successful period in modern history, says PM in New Year’s address

In a New Year’s address, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said that the Czech Republic was currently going through one of the most successful and happy periods in its modern history and was performing confidently in international relations. Mr. Babiš told TV viewers on Wednesday evening that his government would continue its policy of mainly investing in people, adding that it would raise both pensions and salaries in 2020.

The PM said a new construction bill would likely be the most important piece of legislation in the lower house this year, while digitialisation and cybersecurity would also be major issues for his cabinet.

New electronic sick note system working well, says labour minister

A new system of electronic sick notes that went into effect in the New Year is working well, says the minister of labour and social affairs, Jana Maláčová. She told reporters that the social administration had received over 3,000 e-sick notes by 10 am on Thursday. Minister Maláčová said that patients would no longer have to deliver documents anywhere in person.

The system had been due to come into effect a year previously. PM Andrej Babiš’s first government wanted to abandon it and create a new version, but Minister Maláčová revived the project when her party the Social Democrats entered a coalition with Mr. Babiš’s ANO.

Road deaths in 2019 down on previous year

There was a decline in road deaths in the Czech Republic in 2019, according to preliminary police figures cited by the Czech News Agency. Some 550 people died in traffic accidents last year, 15 fewer than in 2018. However, the figure for last year was still higher than in 2016 or 2017.

The worst month for road deaths in this country in 2019 was August, with 62. January saw the fewest, with 25.

Video mapping show ushers in New Year in Prague

The authorities in Prague ushered in the New Year with a video mapping show at the city centre National Museum on Wednesday evening. The projection, entitled We, Prague, took place a number of times in the course of the evening. It replaced a previous municipal fireworks display, which the current City Hall leadership said was harmful to the environment and caused stress to animals and some residents.

However, a fireworks display financed from private donations did take place under the auspices of Prague 2. The city’s Congress Centre was the best spot to watch the show but there were such crushes at the Vyšehrad Metro stop that it was closed for some time.

Thursday 55th anniversary of first Večerníček

Thursday is the 55th anniversary of the launch of Večerníček, a very popular Czech children’s TV programme that goes out in the early evening. Czechoslovak Television broadcast the first episode of the show on January 2, 1965 and it has been running ever since.

Many of the characters in the mainly animated Večerníček have become household names, such as Bob and Bobek, Little Mole and Rumcajs.

Old-Timers and Owners get most nominations in Film Critics’ Awards

The pictures Old-Timers and Owners have received the most nominations, five each, in the Czech Film Critics’ Awards. Old-Timers is about a geriatric pair seeking revenge on a communist-era prosecutor, while Owners centres on a meeting of people who all have apartments in the same building. WWII drama The Painted Bird got four nominations.

The winners of the Czech Film Critics’ Awards will be announced on February 1.

Weather forecast

It should be overcast in the Czech Republic on Friday, with temperatures of up to 6 degrees Celsius. Daytime highs are expected to hover around 2 or 3 degrees Celsius at the weekend, when it will be also mainly cloudy.