Prague, Feb 17 (efe-epa).- Disgruntled members of the Czech hospitality industry have clubbed together to form a new political movement to oppose the current Covid-19 restrictions affecting restaurants and bars in the central European nation.
The goal of the new party, which roughly translates to We Open the Czech Republic, is to directly challenge the populist government of prime minister Andrej Babis.
It is led by Jakub Olbert, the owner of the well-known Prague restaurant Seberak who for weeks has been fighting to keep his premises open for business. Although anti-lockdown, the party movement does not deny the health dangers posed by Covid-19.
Seen as irresponsible and disloyal by his detractors, this rebellious businessman has managed to bring together hundreds of restaurant owners who do not understand the need to keep their businesses closed.
They say the data speaks for itself — last month was the worst January since 1993 in terms of the number of companies that closed down. Some 1,336 businesses disappeared, 5% more than a year ago, while 2,413 new ones emerged, 11% less than in January 2020, according to official figures.
Initially, the party was a self-styled “Kafkaesque” strategy that aimed to register hospitality establishments as political branches of the new party, a legal loophole that would prevent the government from closing them down, according to spokesman David Biksadský.
Authorities, however, pursued fines against restaurants trying to circumvent the rules. Biksadský, who believes the government should compensate business-owners for losses incurred under the restrictions, said the party would challenge the penalties.
“It’s funny, but from this weird situation, as the same from all crises, (there) could and should be something positive. Because we hear from the people of the Czech Republic (…) we will fight for their rights. We are here and we want to fight not just for freedom but for normal life,” he added. EFE-EPA