Prague to Get Tougher on Enforcement of Restaurant Patio Rules

A recent inspection by the city of Prague has found that most restaurant patio operators in the city center are not adhering to the agreed-upon patio rules. Some restaurateurs have even taken the city to court over the rules adopted in 2021. According to City Councilor Adam Zábranský, the city will not renew its lease agreements if the lawsuits are not withdrawn.

The manual with the rules applies to patios in the city’s historic areas. After the rules were accepted in 2021, the city signed new lease agreements with business owners in the most high-profile locations in the center, in which they committed to complying with the approved square footage of the patios and not using massive, solid platforms or significant barriers and awnings. In the near future, according to Zábranský, the council will approve another set of new lease agreements for the broader center of Prague.

So far, 134 establishments are located on Wenceslas and Old Town Squares, as well as on the streets of Národní, 28. října, and Na Příkopě, have signed new lease agreements. The city inspected their patios at the end of May and in June. A third had no violations, while the rest had over 200 violations of the rules. The most common violations included visible cables, found in 35 cases by city workers.

Zábranský stated that the city had sent letters to operators asking them to correct the deficiencies. Another inspection will follow, and contractual sanctions will be imposed if the violations are discovered again. “Fines are relatively high, 10,000 crowns per violation per day,” said the councilor. He added that in the case of non-compliance with the square footage, the city could immediately terminate the lease agreements in case of repeated violations.

According to Zábranský, another problem is a small group of operators who have decided not to comply with the new rules and have challenged the city’s lease terminations in court. A total of 13 such lawsuits have been filed. In six cases, the courts have already ruled in favor of the city, Zábranský added.

In the remaining cases, the councilor this week sent letters to operators urging them to withdraw their lawsuits by September 30th. If they do not, the city will no longer enter into any lease agreements for patios with them in the future. “If they do not comply quickly, we will eventually vacate their patios, and they will no longer have the opportunity to operate them,” said the councilor.

The Association of Hospitality Employees and Entrepreneurs (POHO), representing restaurant operators in central Prague, criticized the patio rules after they were adopted. The association argued that the rules, along with the pandemic and tourism restrictions, required restaurants to make significant investments when facing existential pressures. The same association criticized the previous city administration for limiting some patios in the most touristy parts of the city center.