Daily news summary

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Free movement between Czech Republic and Slovakia to be restored from midnight Thursday

As soon as the clocks hit 12pm on the night from Wednesday to Thursday, travel rules between the Czech Republic and Slovakia will be restored to the state in which they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, prime ministers of both countries announced in Prague on Wednesday.

Until now, Czech citizens could travel to their eastern neighbour without a test only if they stayed no longer than 48 hours in the country, with entrance into both states only allowed at designated border crossings.

According to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his Slovak counterpart Igor Matovič, the opening of borders was agreed two days ago and was announced as a gift on the occasion of the Slovak prime ministers first visit to the Czech Republic.

Austria to remove border checks with neighbouring states starting Thursday

Austria will remove its border checks with the Czech Republic and all other neighbouring states, excluding Italy, Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg announced on Wednesday. Neither a negative COVID-19 test, nor undertaking a compulsory two-week quarantine will be required for Czechs to enter the country.

However, it is as of yet unclear whether the Czech Republic will do the same, or continue on its current timeline of opening up borders with Austria, Germany and Hungary on June 15.

Tuesday saw biggest rise in coronavirus cases in nine days

A total of 62 new infections with the COVID-19 coronavirus were registered in the Czech Republic on Tuesday, the sharpest increase in nine days, the Czech News Agency reports. The ratio between the number of tests carried out and infections discovered rose by 1 percent. The virus claimed one casualty on Tuesday.

Prague has the highest number of infected in terms of regional comparison. Altogether, 2,158 individuals have tested positive in the capital resulting in an average of 166 cases per 100,000 people. In the second placed Karlovy Vary Region, that ratio is 155.

Meanwhile, South Bohemia has been faring the best during the pandemic, registering a ratio of just 29 cases per 100,000 residents.

NGOs call on politicians to change debtors’ legislation

A change to the territoriality of bailiffs, an end to unenforceable repossessions, the creation of protected accounts and a change in the calculation of income deductions, these are policies that NGOs working in poverty relief want to see politicians adopt.

Twenty organisations, ranging from the Czech Helsinki Committee and Caritas Czech Republic to the Council of Seniors, say that such changes would help deal with the problem of excessive debt in the country.

An amendment on the law regarding the system of how repositions are enacted is set to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies soon and will then be moved to the Senate.

The scale of bankruptcies and repossession threats in the country is very large, with 9 percent of the country’s population over the age of 15 being a target of repossession only last year. Reform in this area of legislation was also one of the main topics during the last elections into the Chamber of Deputies in 2017.

China’s Tencent makes CZK 6 billion investment in Czech firm Bohemia Interactive

The Chinese technology giant Tencent has taken a majority stake in Czech company Bohemia Interactive, which is involved in the development of computer software and video games, The Information reported. The Chinese company has purchased between 70 and 80 percent of the shares in Bohemia Interactive at a cost of around CZK 6.2 billion, the news site reported. Neither of the companies involved has commented on the takeover, Czech Television reported.

Bohemia Interactive was founded by brothers Ondřej and Marek Španěl and is known for such games as Operation Flashpoint and DayZ.

Cases of anti-Semitic behaviour doubled in 2019

The Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic registered roughly 700 cases of anti-Semitism last year, twice as many as in 2018. In 95 percent of cases these took place over the internet, whether through social media posts, anonymous commentaries, or forum entries.

The data is the result of a study published on the federations website. It highlights that the rise in incidents does not necessarily mean anti-Jewish feeling is on the rise in the Czech Republic, as data gathering and evaluation methodology has improved since previous studies. Furthermore, no cases of physical violence against Jews were registered last year.

Deceased Czech singer Eva Pilarová honoured in commemorative mass

A special commemorative mass for Eva Pilarová is taking place at noon in Prague’s Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary On Strahov this Wednesday. Pilarová, who made her name as one of Czechoslovakia’s most popular singers during the 1960s and 1970s, died at the age of 80 on March 14, during the countrywide COVID-19 lockdown. A mass in her honour was therefore postponed for an indefinite period.

Now, with the easing of measures countering the pandemic, the deceased singer’s husband Jan Kolomazník decided to organise the public mass.

Czech TV: JFK visited occupied Prague in 1939

Future US president John F. Kennedy visited Prague for several days in August 1939, according to the Czech Television show Reportéři ČT. Historians base the claim that Kennedy came to the city on correspondence by JFK himself and above all on the memoirs of top US diplomat George Kennan, who was American consul in Prague under the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

Czech Television said the Nazis had allowed Kennedy, then 22, to visit the occupied city thanks to the fact that his father Joseph Kennedy, who was US ambassador to London, had supported appeasement.

Weather

Temperatures are expected to hover between 21 to 25 degrees Celsius on Thursday. The western part of the country will see rain and the possibility of thunderstorms. In the east meteorologists expect just cloudy skies.