The outgoing Czech government has imposed a nationwide state of emergency aimed at countering the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
The state of emergency came into force on Friday and will be in place for thirty days.
The government has also banned the operation of Christmas markets, with effect from November 26, with the exception of the sale of Christmas trees and carp.
The markets on the Old Town Square and Náměstí Republiky were to be operated by Taiko. Other markets were prepared on a smaller scale on Mariánské náměstí, and organized directly by Prague City Hall.
Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib called the government’s decision to cancel the Christmas markets “outrageous.”
“The government’s decision to abolish the outdoor Christmas markets literally from day to day is outrageous for all operators and stallholders, who often bought the goods on credit. It is unbelievable that they had the stalls built and will now force them to demolish them again. The government must offer adequate financial compensation to all stallholders as soon as possible,” added Hřib.
“Disrupting Christmas markets overnight is the pinnacle of ignorance. Shops remain open, outdoor stalls do not. It is necessary to realize that for many small businesses, holding markets is one of the main livelihoods. They have been preparing for the markets for several months,” said the councillor for Property Jan Chabr (TOP 09).
“The government and the Chamber of Deputies must now urgently discuss the compensation and consider holding at least markets on a smaller scale. At the moment, some stallholders do not even have the money to remove and dismantle the stalls from the square,” added Chabr.
“We thank the city, we very much appreciate that he understands our situation and tries to help by sending an appeal to the government to reconsider its regulation. We and the stallholders – small tradesmen – are desperate, we have invested all our money, we have been preparing for the markets all year, some sellers even had to take out a loan,” said Libor Votruba, Chairman of the Board of Taiko, the market organizer on Old Town Square.
“This is the proof of the final failure of the old government of Andrej Babiš and their absolute inability to plan anything. It is a complete paradox to close the outdoor markets in Náměstí Republiky and to keep the crowded shopping center running,” concluded Mayor Zdeněk Hřib.