COVID-19: Czechs To Drop Mandatory Face Masks From July

People stand on marks to observe social distancing, during a protest on June 9, 2020, at the Old Town Square in Prague. Michal Cizek / AFP



Czechs will no longer have to wear face masks as of July 1, apart from in the capital, the health minister said Thursday, lifting a measure adopted to curb coronavirus infections.

Introduced on March 19, the order to cover the mouth and nose led Czechs to sew face masks at home amid a dire shortage in the EU member of 10.7 million people.

“The blanket duty to wear face masks will be abandoned on July 1, 2020… with the exception of regions with a worse epidemiological situation,” Health Minister Adam Vojtech told reporters.

Masks will still be mandatory in shops and on public transport in Prague where city hall has been paralysed after a deputy mayor tested positive for COVID-19.

Masks will also be required in the northeastern Karvina district, where nearly 500 people with ties to the Darkov coal mine recently tested positive.

The Czech Republic has 10,176 confirmed COVID-19 cases of which 333 died.

The cap on public events will increase from 500 to 1,000 participants as of June 22, Vojtech said.

A maximum of 5,000 fans seated in five separate sectors, each comprising 1,000 people, will be allowed at football matches and similar events.

Attendance limits for swimming pools or zoos have been dropped along with social distancing rules for museums, galleries, and castles from June 22.

From July 1, night clubs can reopen and pubs and restaurants will be allowed to operate beyond 11 pm.


Fire Kills At Least Eight At Czech Disability Home

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At least eight people died and 30 were injured after a fire at a home for people with learning disabilities in a western Czech town early Sunday, rescuers said.

“A total of 38 people were affected by the fire, of them, eight, unfortunately, died,” emergency services spokesman Prokop Volenik told AFP.

He said 30 people were taken to the hospital — one in critical condition, three with serious injuries and 26 with light or no injuries.

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Czech media said the fire which was now under control was reported at 0349 GMT.

“The fire broke out in the boys’ section of a home for the mentally handicapped,” said Jitka Gavdunova, the mayor of Vejprty, a small town on the German border some 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Prague.

Originally, rescuers said the fire had occurred at a nearby home for the elderly.

“It’s insane, we’re swamped with phone calls from the relatives of the pensioners,” said Gavdunova.

Volenik said it was too early to talk about the causes of the blaze.

He added seven ambulance units including two German ones had been deployed.

Czech media said rescue helicopters were grounded by bad weather in the mountainous region.


Death Toll In Czech Hospital Rampage Rises To Six

This handout image published by the Czech police on their twitter account on December 10, 2019 shows policemen standing in front of the Faculty Hospital in Ostrava, eastern Czech Republic, where a gunman opened fire, killing six people. HO / Czech Police / AFP


A gunman opened fire Tuesday in a hospital in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, killing six people, the prime minister said.

“There were four dead and two injured people who unfortunately died too,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis told the public Czech Television.

The gunman is still at large, police said.

Four Killed, Two Injured As Gunman Attacks Czech Hospital

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A gunman opened fire Tuesday in a hospital in the eastern Czech city of Ostrova, killing four people and seriously injuring two others, police said.

“There are four dead and two seriously injured people on the site,” regional police spokeswoman Pavla Jirouskova told the public Czech Television.

She added the suspect remained at large, with police asking the public for help.

Police have published a picture of the alleged suspect on Twitter, showing a man with receding ginger hair and wearing a red jacket.

Czech TV reported that he was about 180 centimetres (5.9 feet) tall.

“I can confirm a shooting at the Ostrava Faculty Hospital after 7:00 am (0600 GMT) today,” Interior Minister Jan Hamacek tweeted.

The DNES daily reported on its website that the shooting had occurred at the trauma ward of the hospital in Ostrava, a steel hub located around 300 kilometres (190 miles) east of Prague.


Lion Mauls Czech Breeder To Death

File Photo: Barbary lion Chalid bares his teeth in his enclosure at the zoo in Heidelberg, southwestern Germany/ AFP


A nine-year-old male lion mauled its owner to death in a village in the east of the Czech Republic on Tuesday morning, police said.

“I can confirm the breeder is dead,” regional police spokeswoman Lenka Javorkova told AFP, adding the circumstances of the incident were under investigation.

The 34-year-old breeder kept two lions, a two-year-old female and the male, without the required veterinary licence and in an enclosure built without a permit at the village of Zdechov.

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“The police had to shoot the two lions dead. A doctor then declared the owner dead,” said the spokeswoman, adding both animals had been inside the enclosure at the time.

The breeder’s father called the police at 0600 GMT after seeing his son’s motionless body in the enclosure on a security camera.

The man had bred the male since 2016 and the female since last year. Czech media reported that people in the village had expressed concern about the presence of the animals.

Last June, the female lion attacked and injured a cyclist while taking a walk on a leash with its owner.

13 Killed In Czech Mine Accident

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Thirteen miners died and up to 10 were injured after methane combustion at a mine in the east of the Czech Republic, a spokesman said Friday.

“In total we have 13 dead miners, 11 Polish and two Czech,” Ivo Celechovsky, spokesman for the OKD mining company, told AFP.

The accident occurred at the CSM mine in the city of Karvina, about 300 kilometres (200 miles) east of Prague, on Thursday afternoon.


Siniakova Leads Czechs Past US To Fed Cup Title

Czech Katerina Siniakova returns the ball to US Sofia Kenin during the Fed Cup World Group final tennis match between Czech Republic and United States on November 11, 2018 in Prague.
Michal Cizek / AFP


Katerina Siniakova beat Sofia Kenin in a marathon three-set battle Sunday to lead the Czech Republic to a sixth Fed Cup title in eight years after defeating the United States in the final.


Siniakova, the world number 31, snuffed out two match points to beat the 19-year-old, 52nd-ranked Kenin 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 in three hours and 45 minutes to wrap up a 3-0 victory.

It is an 11th overall title for the Czechs, five of which came as former Czechoslovakia, a haul second only to the US and their record of 18.

“It was an incredible game for me, up and down, lots of nerves,” Siniakova said. “I’m just terribly happy I’ve won.”

“I was so nervous I can’t describe it and I’m really looking forward to some time off,” she added.

Groundstrokes and long rallies prevailed in Sunday’s rubber as both Siniakova and Kenin struggled with their serves, losing it more often than not in the first set.

But the 22-year-old Czech, who is the world number one for doubles alongside her teammate and compatriot Barbora Krejcikova, managed an extra break to take the set 7-5 as Kenin made 23 unforced errors.

The Russian-born American making her Fed Cup debut kept piling up errors early into the second set with Siniakova taking a 3-0 lead.

The American number one for the tie despite still seeking her maiden WTA singles title, Kenin regained composure in time to win the next four games before taking the set 7-5 as Siniakova visibly struggled with her nerves.

The Czech took another 3-0 lead in the third set and held on to the advantage in an interminable 19-minute game five.

But Kenin, who underwent treatment on her left thigh, came back and took a 5-4 lead before earning two match points.

“I felt terrible there. The worst,” said Siniakova.

“But you keep playing until the last match point is won.”

That is what happened — Siniakova took the game, earned a break and won the set 7-5.

On Saturday, Barbora Strycova, the world number 33, came from a set down against Kenin to win 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4 in the Czech’s last Fed Cup rubber before retirement.

Siniakova then saw off 63rd-ranked Alison Riske 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).

The US, whose head-to-head record against the Czechs is now 10-3, were missing Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Madison Keys.

The Czechs were without Karolina Pliskova and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who missed the final with a bad cold.



Czechs 2-0 Up On U.S. In Fed Cup Final

Czechs 2-0 Up On U.S. In Fed Cup Final
Czech Barbora Strycova returns the ball to US Sofia Kenin during the Fed Cup World Group final tennis match between the Czech Republic and the United States on November 10, 2018, in Prague. Michal Cizek / AFP


Barbora Strycova overpowered Sofia Kenin and Katerina Siniakova beat Alison Riske to hand the Czech Republic a 2-0 lead over holders the United States in the Fed Cup final in Prague on Saturday.

Strycova, the world number 33, came from a set down to beat the 52nd-ranked, 19-year-old Kenin 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4 in two hours and 43 minutes.

Siniakova, the world number 31, then saw off 63rd-ranked Riske 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).

The hosts are a win away from their sixth title in the last eight editions and their 11th overall, including five as the former Czechoslovakia. The United States have lifted the trophy a record 18 times.

The 32-year-old Strycova, who has announced her retirement from Fed Cup duty after the final, struggled with her serve throughout a nervous first set.

Strycova and Fed Cup debutant Kenin earned two breaks each, with the more aggressive US teenager taking the set in a tie-break.

But, propelled by the sold-out O2 Arena with 14,500 fans, the four-time Fed Cup winner regained composure in the second to sweep aside the Russian-born Kenin, who is still in search of her maiden WTA singles title.

Strycova took a 5-2 lead in the third and despite giving up two breaks, she took the set 6-4.

“For me it was a lot of emotions,” Strycova said on court after the win.

“I fought every ball and I’m so happy that I could win today in front of such a crowd. It means a lot to me.

“Every point is very important and I’m very happy I could do it today.”

Kenin admitted she was “a little bit overwhelmed” by her debut.

“I was pretty nervous but I was able to handle it,” she said.

“In the second set I got a lot of break opportunities but she just played too good so credit to her.”

Siniakova cruised through the first set of her encounter with Riske, forging ahead through a pair of breaks after indulging in groundstrokes and long rallies.

Riske went 3-1 up in the second set, but Siniakova levelled and took the set to a tie-break which she dominated to seal victory.

“I was just trying to focus on every point (in the tie-break),” said Siniakova.

“Actually, after the first point I was thinking, you know, you’ve played so many tie-breaks this year and you won almost all.”

“It couldn’t be better but it isn’t finished yet so we need to be ready for tomorrow.”

The US are missing Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Madison Keys, while the Czechs are without Karolina Pliskova and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who has ended up on the bench with a bad cold.

On Sunday, Siniakova is due to face Kenin and Strycova will then take on Riske.

Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova are then scheduled to face Danielle Collins and the Czech-born Nicole Melichar in the final doubles rubber.

But the teams may change and if Kvitova gets better, she might appear on the court.

“We need to discuss that. It will definitely be easier to put the team together when we’re 2-0 up,” said Czech captain Petr Pala.


Czech Republic Sack Coach Jarolim After Russia Defeat

Coach of the Czech Republic Karel Jarolim follows the game from the sideline during the international friendly football match between Russia and Czech Republic at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don on September 10, 2018. STR / AFP


The Czech Football Association said Tuesday it had sacked national team coach Karel Jarolim following a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Russia the day before.

“Karel Jarolim is quitting as coach of the Czech national team after mutual agreement,” the FA said in a tweet.

“In the days to come, the FA will meet candidates who could replace him. Thanks, coach,” it added.

The 62-year-old Jarolim, who was unveiled as coach in 2016, failed in his bid to lead the team to this year’s World Cup in Russia.

The new season did not start well either as the Czechs lost 2-1 to Ukraine at home in the Nations League opener last week.

They went on to take the worst thrashing since the Czech Republic’s independence in 1993 when they lost to Russia in a friendly in Rostov on Monday.

“I feel terrible, I guess I deserve a public execution, it’s all my fault,” Jarolim said in Russia, admitting the team would likely need “a stimulus”.

Czech media said former Slavia Prague coach Jaroslav Silhavy and current under-21 coach Vitezslav Lavicka were likely choices to replace Jarolim.

Under Jarolim, a former Slavia playmaker, the national team won 10 games out of 22, mostly against minnows.


Five Victims In Czech Chemical Blast Were Romanians

Firefighters stand on a part of a chemical plant in the northern Czech town of Kralupy-nad-Vltavou, March 22, 2018 where at least six people died and several others were seriously injured in an explosion. Michal CIZEK / AFP


Five of the six people killed in an explosion at a chemical plant in the northern Czech Republic were Romanians, Bucharest said Friday.

“The number of Romanian nationals killed in the tragedy has risen to five,” the Romanian foreign ministry said.

The incident on Thursday in Kralupy-nad-Vltavou, 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of Prague, was the Czech Republic’s deadliest industrial accident since Czechoslovakia split in 1993.

The nationality of the sixth person killed has not been announced.

Two people were also hospitalised, one with “devastating facial injuries” and the other with “10-percent burns”, Czech emergency services said.

The plant is part of a refinery complex owned by Czech chemicals group Unipetrol, majority controlled by Poland’s PKN. The victims were working for a contractor.

The explosion occurred while the reservoir was being cleaned, emergency services said.

There was no fire and the situation was brought under control, with authorities saying there was no health risk for local residents.

An investigation has been launched.

At Least Six Dead In Czech Chemical Plant Blast

File Photo.


At least six people died and several others were seriously injured in an explosion Thursday at a Czech chemical plant in the northern town of Kralupy-nad-Vltavou, firefighters said.

“We have received information about six dead and several others seriously injured,” regional firefighter spokeswoman Vladimira Kerekova said, quoted by the CTK news agency.

The Prague-Vinohrady hospital has triggered its emergency plan and is getting ready to receive a “significant number” of patients, she added.

Emergency services spokeswoman Petra Effenbergerova said six people were injured.

Kerekova said the factory belongs to the Polish firm Synthos, which manufactures synthetic rubber and polystyrene.

Two people were injured in an explosion at the same factory in 2015.

“We have launched an investigation to determine the circumstances and causes,” police spokeswoman Marketa Johnova said.

She said police had learned of the explosion at 10:00 am local time.

Billionaire Babis Grabs Big Lead As Czechs Count Election Ballots

Czech billionaire Andrej Babis, chairman of the ANO movement (YES), casts his ballot at a polling station during the first day of the Czech elections on October 20, 2017 in Pruhonice,

Czech billionaire businessman Andrej Babis was on course on Saturday  for a big win in a parliamentary election, early results showed, ushering his ANO party to power to cut taxes, lift investments and fight immigration.

Babis’s ANO movement had won 30.74 percent of the vote — nearly three times more than any other party’s showing — with 77.65 percent of voting districts counted.

At 7.56 percent, the ruling Social Democrats of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka were on course for their worst result since the country peacefully split with Slovakia in 1993.

The Social Democrats or the Civic Democrats have led every Czech cabinet since Czechoslovakia split, apart from caretaker administrations.

The Czech economy has enjoyed rapid growth, a balanced budget and the lowest unemployment in the European Union in the past four years, but the Social Democrats – who led a government with ANO and another partner – have not been able to capitalise.

Instead, ANO and other anti-establishment groups took advantage of voters’ disgust with politics as usual by promising to week out corruption, fight deeper European Union integration and stop the country from accepting quotas for taking in refugees imposed by Brussels.

Babis himself has promised to bring a businessman’s touch to government, resonating with voters.