Most stores to close for Oct. 28

This year marks the 99th anniversary of Czechoslovakia

October 28 is Independent Czechoslovak State Day, and most large stores over 200 square meters will close due to the law passed last year.

Pharmacies, gas stations, and stores in airports, hospitals and train stations are not included in the law. Stores under 200 square meters, such as local grocery stores, can also remain open.

The idea behind the law is to allow workers time to spend with their families.

Some stores that take orders over the internet have been staying open, claiming they are not performing sales, just providing for pickups and returns, which are not banned under the law.

Violators of the law can face fines up to Kč 1 million, and some fines have been levied in the past.

This year is the 99th anniversary of the establishment of the First Republic of Czechoslovakia in 1918. There are a few celebrations planned, such as a ceremony at the National Monument in Vítkov at 10 am. Czech President Miloš Zeman, Defense Minister Martin Stropnický, Army Chief of General Staff Josef Bečvář and other representatives of the Ministry of Defense are expected to attend. Usually, there is a flyover of military aircraft trailing smoke in the national colors of red, white and blue.

Next year will be the 100th anniversary and a much more extensive celebration is planned. The National Museum should finally open after years of renovation, and there should be large public events and concerts.

Independent Czechoslovak State Day marks when the newly created Czechoslovakia broke away from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the closing days of World War I.

Bohemia and Moravia had been ruled by Austrian while Slovakia was controlled from Hungary.

Nationalist movements began in the middle of the 18th century. Despite some cultural and linguistic differences, Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia decided to join together. Secret talks to create the country took place with the support of the Allied forces in the US, Britain and France.

The Czechoslovak Declaration of Independence was drafted in October 1918 in Washington, D.C., and is sometimes called the Washington Declaration (Washingtonská deklarace). It was signed by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Milan Rastislav Štefánik and Edvard Beneš.

Independence was proclaimed in Wenceslas Square in Prague on Oct. 28, 1918. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk became the first president.

The law concerning the closure of stores also covers three Christmas holidays (stores close at noon on Dec. 24 and remain closed on Dec. 25 and 26), New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, Easter Monday, Liberation Day on May 8, and Czech Statehood Day (St. Wenceslas Day).

Other holidays such as Good Friday, Labor Day on May 1, Saints Cyril and Methodius Day and Jan Hus Day on July 5 and 6 and Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day on Nov. 17 are not included.

Critics of the law claim there is no logic as to what holidays are included or excluded, and this makes it difficult for people to plan shopping, especially in cities that don't have small convenience stores.

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