Many restaurants throughout the Czech Republic opened their doors on Saturday despite government mandates prohibiting them from doing so.
This act of disobedience was done in support of the Chcípl PES initiative. The restauranteurs opened for supporters of their efforts to come and sign a petition they have been circulating. The petition is necessary for them to gain enough signatures to become their own political party.
The group seeks to gain political party status in order to re-open their restaurants and pubs fully as political meeting spaces which they believe to be exempt from government-ordered closures. Jan Hamáček the Minister of the Interior publicly rejects this interpretation of the anti-epidemic regulations.
A Prague restaurant called Šeberák participated as well and had over a dozen people come to support the movement. Many other bars around the country took part in the protest and each attracted their own small crowds who came to express support, make voluntary contributions, and sign the petition.
The Chcípl PES movement is said to also have membership cards identifying supporters to ensure that anybody that does not support the movement and sign the petition would not be served at participating establishments.
Although many other Prague businesses had wanted to take part in the protest, they either only opened a small service window or remained closed entirely. Poor weather conditions did not help matters either.
Some participating businesses can be signified by signs of protest or the brandishing of the Czech flag in their front windows.
Czech police forces were present at many of these openings to ensure things did not escalate and that the businesses did not stay open past 9 pm which would blatantly violate government regulations.
Despite the push to re-open the country by frustrated business owners, countrywide there were 2,376 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Sunday. This marks the lowest number of daily reported cases since December 13.
The University Hospital in Brno has reported that there are approximately 100 cases of the coronavirus mutation recorded every week. Though it is much more contagious than the original viral variant, it is not believed to be more dangerous.
The Ministry of Health has stated they will consider moving the country to a lower level on the PES risk index and ease some restrictions around schools and shops in mid-February. They have not indicated that this would include restaurants and bars as well.