The Old Town Square gets concrete blocks

New security measures are being put in place to stop car attacks

Rows of concrete roadblocks have been installed around Old Town Square to protect the place from a terrorist attack by car.

The barriers are the end of Pařížská Street and were installed on the recommendation of the police. The barriers belong to the city and cost tens of thousands of crowns.

The barriers are not in response to a specific terrorist threat, but meant as a precaution. Automobile and truck attacks aimed at pedestrians have taken place in Spain, France, the UK, Sweden, Israel, Germany and the US in the past two years.

The concrete blocks are being installed on other streets around the city center and near main tourist attractions. Jeruzalémská and Maiselová Streets, both of which have synagogues, now also have barriers. “Again, this is a preventive security measure on the recommendation of the police,” city spokesman Vít Hofman said, according to daily Mladá fronta Dnes.

Old Town was chosen because it is a space where a large number of people, especially tourists, are constantly gathering for events or just for sightseeing.

Old Town Square currently has markets for St Wenceslas Day and will at the end of November and during December have the annual Christmas market, which is a major attraction for tourists and locals.

Security at the markets has already been increased during the past two years, with more patrols by heavily armed police in black uniforms. The ceremonial opening of the Christmas market has not been held for the past two years due to concerns over crowd size.

The response to the barriers at Old Town Square has been mixed. Some people say it is a sign of the times and typical of security everywhere. Other people point out that it is an election year and politicians want to seem like they are doing something, and that putting terrorism in the news diverts attention from other issues.

These are not the first security steps against terrorism. Prague Castle has been inspecting bags and searching all visitors since August 2016, often resulting in long lines. The Castle administration has been working to streamline the process.

A security threat scale was introduced in January 2016, with different steps for each of four levels. A list of possible targets has also been compiled by the government. Exercises and drills also take place, and the emergency siren system is tested on the first Wednesday of every month.

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