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Covid ‘speakeasy’ is raided by police in Prague as bars go underground to evade curfew rules

A coronavirus ‘speakeasy’ has been busted by police in Prague trying to evade curfew rules amid one of the highest infection rates in Europe.

Aside from the plastic bags of narcotics, the basement filled with dancers and booze bottles was reminiscent of the illegal nightclubs of Prohibition era Chicago.

Officers discovered dozens of revellers beneath the restaurant on Vodičková Street, in the heart of the Czech capital, flouting the 8pm curfew, six person limit and not wearing masks.

The restaurant was found to be closing its front doors and moving the clientele downstairs once the curfew kicked in and is facing a eye-watering fine of up to 3,000,000 Czech crowns (£100,149). 

A police raid on a restaurant basement in central Prague last week found dozens of revellers flouting coronavirus restrictions

The illicit drinking has bee compared to the speakeasies which opened during the Prohibition era in America

The illicit drinking has bee compared to the speakeasies which opened during the Prohibition era in America

Officers examine drugs found among bottles of alcohol in the speakeasy

Officers examine drugs found among bottles of alcohol in the speakeasy

After winning praise for its early response to the pandemic, the Czech Republic is now battling one of worst infection rates in Europe (pictured is a graph showing the 7-day average of cases per million people of the population)

After winning praise for its early response to the pandemic, the Czech Republic is now battling one of worst infection rates in Europe (pictured is a graph showing the 7-day average of cases per million people of the population)

Covid 'speakeasy' is raided by police in Prague as bars go underground to evade curfew rules

Covid 'speakeasy' is raided by police in Prague as bars go underground to evade curfew rules

Police spokesman Jan Danek said: ‘At 8pm guests move to the back of the basement, where they continue to have fun and drink alcohol.

‘When one of the customers wants to leave, they address the staff, who takes them through the back entrance.

‘Through this back entrance, the police officers got into the restaurant and found that there were 35 people who were not allowed to be there, drinking alcohol and not following special regulations.’

Police fined 21 guests a total of 11,000 crowns (£367) for not wearing masks.

Six guests were also found to be in possession of drugs and one was arrested for a drug-related offence.

Captain Danek added: ‘Police officers will now monitor compliance with emergency regulations to a greater and greater extent.

‘Now there is no room for benevolence and the police will move to more drastic solutions, such as imposing fines in injunction proceedings.

Revellers are caught red handed drinking, getting close to each other and flouting the 8pm curfew

Revellers are caught red handed drinking, getting close to each other and flouting the 8pm curfew

The venue is facing a savage fine of more than £100,000

The venue is facing a savage fine of more than £100,000

‘This will mainly concern chronic refusers of regulations and those who intentionally violate them.’

A new lockdown brought into force last Wednesday, shortly after the raid, has now forced all restaurants, pubs and bars in the Czech Republic to close altogether, with only takeaway service allowed.

Thousands of protesters rallied in Prague over the weekend and clashed with riot police after football and ice hockey were banned among the new measures.

The country won admiration across the world for its handling of the first coronavirus wave, having moved quickly to close its borders and lock down, while also mandating masks from early on. 

Protestors light flares at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, including football supporters, protest against the Czech government's new measures to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Prague on October 18

Protestors light flares at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, including football supporters, protest against the Czech government’s new measures to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Prague on October 18

Demonstrators gather to protest against the COVID-19 restrictive measures at Old Town Square. The Czech Republic is under partial lockdown closing schools, bars and clubs until November 3. With 1,106 deaths from Covid-19, the Czech Republic has reported 55,538 new cases in a fortnight

Demonstrators gather to protest against the COVID-19 restrictive measures at Old Town Square. The Czech Republic is under partial lockdown closing schools, bars and clubs until November 3. With 1,106 deaths from Covid-19, the Czech Republic has reported 55,538 new cases in a fortnight

The first wave of the virus peaked in Czechia when 408 daily cases were recorded in March and the highest single-day death toll, 18, was recorded in April.

On Friday, however, more than 11,000 cases were recorded in just one day.

Hospitals are treating six times as many virus patients as during the first wave, with other surgeries being cancelled and plans being drawn up for patients to be exported to Germany, Hungary or Poland.

‘We are in danger of collapsing here,’ interior minister Jan Hamacek told Czech media last week, adding that ‘there will be corpse freezers in the streets’ if the outbreak is not contained. 

 

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