Over 100 Czech Romanies apply for asylum in Canada after visas lifted

Over 100 Romanies from the Czech Republic have applied for political asylum in Canada since it lifted a visa requirement for Czech visitors at the start of November, the Toronto Star reported. While in the first ten months of 2007 no Czech Romanies lodged asylum requests, 83 did so in November and December, while 45 applied in January. The fresh applications have raised apprehensions that there could be a repeat of a situation in 1996, when the North American state lifted travel restrictions for Czechs and around 4,000 Romanies from the Czech Republic arrived in Canada; most of them gained refugee status.

Author: Ian Willoughby

Latest News

  • Independence Day celebrations low-key


    Celebrations of Czechoslovak Independence Day are low-key this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

    The traditional award-giving ceremony at Prague Castle has been cancelled as has the ceremony at Vitkov Hill at which the country’s top officials, war veterans and church dignitaries lay wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    The country’s top officials and political leaders are visiting Vitkov Hill individually to lay wreaths and flowers at the memorial.

    Prague Castle will release a list of those who have been awarded high state distinctions on the occasion of the public holiday and President Miloš Zeman will address the nation on national television.

    Planned cultural events have had to go online and Czech Television is featuring a series of special programs to mark the 102  anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s founding.

  • Number of newly registered Covid-19 cases hits new high


    The number of newly registered Covid-19 cases reached 15,663 on Tuesday, an increase by 400 on last weeks record.

    The number of people hospitalized and those in a serious condition continues to grow steeply, as does the death toll.

    170,000 people are currently fighting the infection, over 6,000 people are hospitalized with Covid-19, of which close to 900 are in a serious condition. The death toll has reached 2,547.

  • Night curfew and ban on Sunday sales now in force


    Strict new measures aimed at bringing the coronavirus epidemic under control came into force on Wednesday, October 28.

    The government has enforced a night curfew between 9pm and 5am, employers have been asked to employ home office wherever possible, food and other stores selling essential goods, which still remain open, have to be closed on Sundays and will have to close their doors by 8pm on weekdays.

    People are being encouraged to shop twice a week instead of going out daily and minimize their contacts with others as much as possible.

    In an interview for Czech Radio, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said the authorities were running out of possible measures to bring the epidemic under control and did not rule out a complete lockdown if the present measures fail to be effective.

    He said that at the present time the government was still divided on a complete lockdown.

  • Centre-right opposition parties sign alliance memorandum for 2021 elections


    The leaders of the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the TOP 09 party met at the statue of former president T.G. Masaryk on Tuesday morning to sign a memorandum on forming an alliance for next year’s 2021 elections into the Chamber of Deputies.

    A similar coalition is currently being negotiated between the opposition Pirate Party and the Mayors and Independents.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Jan Blatný to become new health minister on Thursday


    The Deputy Director of the Faculty Hospital in Brno Jan Blatný, will succeed Roman Prymula as Czech health minister. The official inauguration will take place on Thursday mid-day, President Miloš Zeman's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček announced after Mr. Blatný met with President Miloš Zeman in the latter's Lány residence on Tuesday afternoon.

    News site iDnes.cz broke the story on Monday that Mr. Blatný was the proposed replacement for Mr. Prymula, citing a source familiar with the ongoing negotiations. However, Mr. Blatný can only assume office once he is approved by the president.

    Jan Blatný is a pediatrician and hematologist. He has previously served as the Chief Physician at the Faculty Hospital in Brno and lectures at the Medical Faculty of the Masaryk University in Brno. He faced controversy during the spring first wave of the coronavirus pandemic from the NGO League of Human Rights, because he did not allow the parents of coronavirus infected children visits.

    The current health minister, Roman Prymula, is set to leave office after being dismissed by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for breaking the government’s coronavirus measures. He was caught visiting a Prague restaurant last Wednesday.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Weather


    Wednesday is set to be cloudy, with temperatures around 11 degrees Celsius. No rainfall is expected.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • State of pandemic means Czech schools have to remain closed, says health minister


    Czech schools will not reopen at the beginning of next week, Health Minister Roman Prymula announced on Tuesday. This despite an earlier promise that primary schools would definitely re-open from November 2. He said that the government will decide on when it plans to reopen schools after reviewing data towards the end of this week.

    Both the opposition and the current Minister of Education Robert Plaga have cticisised the delay, saying that it is necessary to provide information on when schools will reopen now.

    Czech schools, including primary education facilities, have been closed in the Czech Republic since October 14, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is regularly reaching new height in terms of infections and numbers of hospitalised. Classes are currently being taught via distance learning.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Government proposes extending state of emergency to December 3


    The Czech government has proposed that the current state of emergency be extended until December 3, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš announced on Tuesday. The proposal will have to be approved by the Chamber of Deputies, which is set to discuss the issue on Friday morning.

    The prime minister said that the extension was necessary to keep the several emergency measures, that have been put in place  to curb the spread of COVID-19, in place.

    The Czech Republic has been in a state of emergency since October 5. It is currently among the most affected countries in Europe by the pandemic.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Care home residents to receive fast coronavirus tests, says labour minister


    Czech social services have successfully tested the use of antigenic COVID-19 tests (sometimes also referred to as fast coronavirus tests), Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová announced on Tuesday. The tests are to be used for wide-range testing of senior citizens in social facilities, such as pensioner homes.

    Antigenic tests take around 15 minutes to provide a result. However, they are also less reliable than standard testing. According to Minister of Health Roman Prymula, the tests will be used in social facilities such as pensioner homes, because they will be able to indicate the level of spread faster than normal PCR testing. The second, more reliable wave of tests would then follow.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Hundreds of police to be deployed during October 28 protests against coronavirus measures


    Hundreds of police officers are set to be deployed to monitor demonstrations in the centre of Prague, planned on the occasion of the creation of the independent Czechoslovak state on October 28. Protests and associated events are planned on the Náměstí Republiky square, on Old Town Square and in the area of Klárov. Their primary goal is to protest against the ongoing government measures that restrict movement and have closed most shops and restaurants to curb the spread of COVID-19.

    A previous protest against coronavirus measures, which took place less than two weeks ago, ended in a violent clash between protestors and the police. However, Prague Municipal Police spokesman Jan Daněk has said that the local police force does not expect this to happen on Wednesday.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe