The Czech Senate is on Wednesday set to vote on the controversial church property restitution bill. The upper house, controlled by the opposition Social Democrats and Communists, is likely to reject the bill. The draft legislation, prepared by the government, would give the Czech Catholic Church and other religious groups some 135 billion crowns worth of property, most of it as financial compensation. Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Wednesday expressed confidence that coalition MPs will overturn a possible Senate veto of the bill when it returns to the lower house.
The Czech Health Ministry on Wednesday revealed plans to introduce a broad smoking ban in all restaurants, pubs, bars and other establishments. The bill, which is now being reviewed by other branches of the government, would also ban smoking in the establishments' outside seating areas and introduce fines of up to one million crowns for failure to comply with the measure. The current Czech legislation allows smoking in separate sections of restaurants which would not be possible under the proposed bill. Polls show that nearly 80 percent of Czechs support the broad smoking ban which could come into effect in August, 2013.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved new gambling and lottery legislation that would allow foreigners to take part in the business, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said. The bill would require gambling and lottery operators to be based in the Czech Republic; internet operators would also have to be registered in the country. The draft legislation was dismissed by members of the Czech gaming industry who said large foreign betting firms, operating on-line for years, would not establish Czech branches. The bill should also give municipalities more power in regulating gambling.
A children’s wing at Prague’s Motol hospital has been found to be structurally unstable. The wing, which is undergoing renovation and accommodates no patients at the moment, has moved by eight to ten centimetres, a spokeswoman for the hospital said. The hospital halted all renovation work and the building is being reviewed by experts. The facility, which is one of Europe’s largest children’s hospitals, was opened last June after a major reconstruction which cost 4.4 billion crowns.
The Czech Republic will next year open new diplomatic missions in Qatar, Senegal, Burma, Sri Lanka and Colombia, the news agency ČTK reported on Wednesday quoting a policy document by the Foreign Ministry. The ministry is also planning to close its offices in Luxembourg and at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Instead, staff will be reinforced at Czech embassies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, deputy foreign minister Jiří Schneider said.
Czech hotels will next year adopt the European star rating system as set by the Hotelstars Union, the Czech hotels and restaurants association said on Wednesday. The Czech Republic joined the Hotelstars Union, an international association of hotels and restaurants active in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and eight other countries, in 2010. Since then, over 400 Czech establishments have met its quality standards and are allowed to display the stars. However, the system in each country was different. As of 2013, hotels that meet the union’s qualifying standards will be given a unified rating while those already holding one will have to reapply.
The regional authorities in Ústí nad Labem on Wednesday dismissed a complaint by environmentalists against the completion of the controversial D8 motorway, effectively allowing the country’s road authority to go ahead and complete the last 4.7 kilometer-long stretch. The D8 motorway, connecting Prague with the German border, crosses a nature reserve. Environmentalists claim the respective environmental impact assessment study is incomplete as it fails to analyze alternate routes. However, the authorities consider the study to be sufficient.
Prague’s transport authority on Wednesday filed a series of lawsuits against its former managers over several allegedly overprice contracts, the director of the company, Vladimír Lich said. Based on the results of a recent audit, the transport authority also filed lawsuits against managers of companies hired to provide paper and SMS tickets and legal, marketing and other services. Without disclosing any names, Mr Lich said the lawsuits were filed against eight people.
Some 34 percent of Czechs never attended a concert of classical music although up to 70 percent of them consider such events to be part of their general cultural background, according to a new poll by the STEM/MARK agency for the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra released on Wednesday. Most people said they did not have time to attend such concerts. The survey also suggests that only around 17 percent of Czechs play a musical instrument.
The Czech national football team plays Ukraine in Lviv on Wednesday in a friendly match ahead of World Cup qualifying. Czech manager Michal Bílek has chosen midfielders Vladimír Darida and Daniel Kolář, both of Viktoria Plzeň, to replace the injured playmakers Tomáš Rosický and Jaroslav Plašil. Striker David Lafata, of Jablonec will be the Czech team’s sole forward. Coach Bílek said the game was an ideal testing ground ahead of the World Cup qualification in which the Czechs will play Denmark in September.