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Prague Mayor condemns government’s decision to cancel Christmas markets

Prague Mayor condemns government’s decision to cancel Christmas markets

Zdeněk Hrib labelled the decision as “outrageous”, calling for the compensation of those affected

Last week, the Czech government declared a state of emergency due to a rise in COVID infections. In turn, it banned the operations of all Christmas markets just a day before they were set to open. On 26 November, the City of Prague released a statement condemning the government’s decision and urging them to offer adequate compensation for the cancelled markets.

Strong disapproval

The capital was reportedly ready to unveil its Christmas markets on the Advent weekend in the Old Town Square, Republic Square and several other locations. In other words, market operators and stallholders had already purchased their materials and built stalls. Expanding on this, Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hrib expressed his disapproval:

"The government's decision to abolish the outdoor Christmas markets literally from day to day is outrageous for all market operators and the stallholders themselves, who mostly bought the goods on credit. It is unbelievable that they had the stalls built and will now be forced to demolish them again. The government must offer adequate financial compensation to all stallholders as soon as possible.”

Councillor Jan Chabr echoed the mayor’s statement, noting that the disruption of the Christmas markets overnight is “the pinnacle of ignorance towards tradesmen”. Taking this point further, both Mayor Hrib and Councillor Chabr questioned why the government has allowed indoor stores and shopping centres to continue operating, while the owners of small businesses have had to cease their outdoor sales.

Financial compensation is necessary

The capital is now calling on the government to urgently compensate the market operators and stallholders who have already purchased supplies and do not have the means to dismantle their stalls. Although the City of Prague is also discussing ways to help those who have been affected, it cannot take concrete actions until the government makes a decision on compensation.

“We thank the city, we very much appreciate that they understand our situation and are trying to help by sending an appeal to the government to reconsider its regulation. We and the stallholders – small tradesmen – are desperate, we invested all the money, we prepared for the markets all year round, some sellers even had to take out a loan and the time when earnings were to come, the government swept them off the table with its decision,” shared Chairman of the market organiser Taiko, Libor Votruba.

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