Czech pubs open in protest against Covid restrictions

Saturday January 23 2021
world08pix

Jiri Janecek (3R), owner of Maly Janek Pub, talks via his mobile phone other pub owners and people working in gastronomy on January 23, 2021 in his open pub in Jince village, Czech Republic, during a protest of the Chcipl pes (Dog is dead) movement against the Covid-19 restrictions. PHOTO/AFP.

By AFP

Pubs and restaurants across the Czech Republic opened Saturday in protest against the government's Covid-19 restrictions that have kept them closed since October.

Hundreds of venues have signed up to join the protest organised by the Chcipl pes (Dog is dead) movement, whose name refers to the government's anti-epidemic PES (DOG) system steering the restrictions.

"We have been disappointed with the government for a long time and we want to show that it had chosen the wrong way," Jiri Janecek, manager at the Maly Janek brewery and restaurant in Jince southwest of Prague, told AFP.

"We've had enough and we think the ministers should consider quitting their posts," added Janecek, co-founder of the movement.

At lunch time on Saturday, Maly Janek was half-full with regulars sipping beer, families munching on pork ribs or schnitzel and waiters and waitresses in full swing.

Prague city hall spokesman Vit Hofman told AFP the open restaurants faced a maximum fine of 20,000 crowns ($932) for breaking the rules.

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Restaurants, pubs and bars, but also cinemas, theatres, zoos, gyms and most shops have been closed in the EU member nation of 10.7 million people since October last year, except for a short-lived easing before Christmas.

The Czech Republic has been struggling to tame the spread of coronavirus since the summer, having taken the post of Europe's worst-off country in terms of new infections and new deaths on two occasions.

It has registered more than 930,000 Covid-19 cases and 15,270 deaths up to now, with daily growths hovering around 8,000 cases.

Established last autumn, the Chcipl pes movement has organised several protest events including building a kilometre-long (0.6 miles) chain of beer glasses in Prague's historic centre earlier this month. 

It has recently evolved into a political movement, with pubs serving as political clubs in which its members and fans can meet.

"The advantage of the political movement... is that we can meet just like our politicians can meet in the parliament canteen," Chcipl pes co-founder David Biksadsky told AFP.

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