Christmas market in Wenceslas Square remains open

Photo:Petr Hloušek, Právo

Christmas markets are continuing in the upper part of Wenceslas Square despite a government ban. The Prague 1 municipality has permitted them to operate as a cultural event, said Petr Bidlo, a spokesman for the district. The municipal district also co-organizes the markets, and according to the organizers, all necessary anti-epidemic measures are being observed. 

“The authorities approved the markets as a cultural event, and therefore they are being held under the regime of cultural events, which are not restricted to this extent,” Bidlo said on Monday. According to the organizers, drinks and food are served under the takeaway regime, and the staff also warn visitors with signs that they should not consume them on the spot.

The mayor of the district, Petr Hejma, reported that stallholders in Prague 1 continue to operate over the weekend despite the government ban. “I fully understand the seriousness of the situation, I observe all anti-epidemic measures, and I ask all citizens to do the same. However, I consider the ban on Christmas markets to be huge nonsense when, for example, farmers’ markets can continue to operate, and we now have a lot of people in shopping centers who have the opportunity to shop there, “Hejma wrote on Facebook.

The market organizers consulted with police officers, constables, the district, and the municipality, according to the statement. Bidlo added that the event includes, among other things, charity stalls selling products from sheltered workshops for people with physical or mental disabilities.

A spokeswoman for the municipal police said that officers would deal with the violation of the Crisis Act only after notification. “Officers will report unauthorized sales in Wenceslas Square to the administrative authorities. However, we have not received any notifications from the public or the 156 emergency line in connection with this activity, “she said.

Prague’s Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) added that the response to the measures announced by the government is primarily up to the operators. “Even in an emergency, the mayor does not have the power to suspend the market regulations or to modify them more quickly. Some operators respond by converting it into a cultural event, while others have decided not to go ahead,” he commented.

The government has banned Christmas markets from 6 pm on Friday. City officials criticized this, saying it made no sense to keep, for example, shopping malls open but prevent outdoor stalls from selling Christmas goods.