Daily news summary

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Communists seek changes to minority coalition tolerance agreement

The Communists wants to renegotiate its seven-point agreement with the minority coalition government, saying the original did not anticipate a pandemic situation, party chairman Vojtěch Filip told reporters on Friday.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s government is the first since 1989 to rely on the support of the Communists. In exchange for that tolerance, the largely unreformed anti-Nato, anti-EU party has won several major policy concessions.

Two years ago, the Communists negotiated a programme with seven priorities, including a steady increase in the minimum wage, the valorisation of pensions, and taxation of church restitutions.

Speaking before a meeting with the Minister of Finance on raising the budget deficit to 500 billion crowns, Filip said he had told Babiš that “substantial” changes could be discussed by the Party’s Central Committee on June 20.

Czech Army takes charge of EU training mission in Mali

The Czech Army took charge of the EU training mission in Mali on Friday. It marks the first time that the Czech military has headed such a foreign mission. Over 700 soldiers from European countries are currently training Mali’s army to fight Islamist militias.

Among them are 120 soldiers Czech stationed in Mali under the command of Brigadier General František Ridzák, who now heads the entire EU mission in the West African country, previously led by a Portuguese officer. The Council of the European Union has extended the duration of the training mission until 2024.

Further easing of coronavirus restrictions on Monday

The Ministry of Health is planning to further ease restrictions taken to curb the spread of coronavirus as of Monday, June 15.

As of that date, it will once again be possible to sell refreshments in theatres and cinemas. However food and drinks will be prohibited during the screening itself, since visitors will still be obliged to wear face masks inside cinema and theatre halls.

The rule that a certain amount of seats must remain empty to comply with social distancing rules was scrapped a week ago.

As of June 22 the government should allow public gatherings of up to 1,000 people.

Czech population rises to 10.7 mn, marriages drop due to coronavirus

The Czech population rose slightly in the first quarter, by 425 people, to level of 10.694 million people, preliminary data published by the Czech Statistical Office show.

Meanwhile, there were only 3,500 marriages through March, 600 fewer in annual terms, due to coronavirus restrictions. During the quarter, 16,100 people immigrated to the Czech Republic, a rise of 800 people year on year.

Over 1,100 Czech sites to take part in Night of Open Churches

Just over 1,100 churches, chapels, monasteries and other sites throughout the Czech Republic, many of which are inaccessible during the year, are opening their doors on Friday evening for the annual Night of Open Churches.

Religious sites will hold concerts, exhibitions and give guided tours, all free of charge. In total some 4,000 events are scheduled for this 12th edition. Many are being streamed on the hosts’ websites or will be broadcast by TV channel Noe.

David Pastrňák wins Golden Hockey Stick for fourth time in succession

The Boston Bruins’ David Pastrňák has won the Golden Hockey Stick for best Czech hockey player of the year for the fourth time in a row.

Pastrňák, who became the youngest player ever to win the Golden Hockey Stick in 2017, won the poll with a strong lead of 149 points over Dominik Kubalík from the Chicago Blackhawks. Forward Jakub Voráček from Philadelphia Flyers finished third.

Twelve-time winner Jaromír Jágr was so far the only player who managed to win four times in a row (2005 to 2008).

Markéta Davidová again named Czech biathlete of the year

Markéta Davidová has been voted Czech biathlete of the year for a second time in a row. The 23-year-old received the award primarily for her strong World Cup performances. Davidová won three silver medals during the shortened season and ranked 14th overall.

Placing second was Lucie Charvátová, 27, who won a bronze in the sprint at the World Championships in Antholz, Italy. Third place went to 18-year-old Ondřej Mánek, who won three silvers at the Junior World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

Weather

Cloudy skies and isolated rainstorms are in the forecast for Saturday with hail likely at higher altitudes and flash flood warnings in effect for low-lying areas. Average daytime highs should range from 23 to 26 degrees Celsius.