Showpark, a brothel operating in Prague Market in Holešovice, has been given 72 hours to clear out so the rooms can be used to quarantine the homeless during the state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.
The city is seeking other buildings to quarantine of the homeless or places to put up tents. Several hundred homeless persons require quarantine facilities, according to City Hall.
Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) on March 26 sent a letter to the firm Eroc, which operates the brothel, to vacate in 72 hours or the city would clear the space out itself using the authority of the Crisis Act.
“If these premises are not provided voluntarily by your company, I am ready to proceed in accordance with Section 14 (5) of the above-cited Act and to order you to provide the premises,” Hřib letter states.
He told the media that the homeless have no way to comply with the state of emergency rules to stay off the streets,
“The homeless have no place to quarantine themselves and have no way of fulfilling the recommendation to go straight home from work every day, since they have no homes and no jobs. We thus had to look for suitable spaces, one of them being the illegally used hall occupied by the Eroc company,” Hřib said, according to press reports.
The mayor told news server Seznam.cz that the main goal was to protect the overall population. “Given the state of emergency, I must protect all Praguers from the possibility of the spread of a new type of coronavirus in all possible ways,’ he said. “In this case, via the community of homeless people who, for objective reasons, cannot comply with some government regulations [to quarantine],” he added.
Prague City Hall has long wanted to get rid of the city’s largest brothel as part of the ongoing plans to renovate 125-year-old Prague Market (Pražská tržnice) into a shopping and cultural hub. Before the pandemic, City Hall had already started court proceedings against Eroc to make them leave the space in a brick hall near the market’s entry.
A district court ruling in 2019 was in favor of the city, but was subject to appeal. That ruling said Eroc had to leave in 30 days and pay 248 million CZK in back rent.
Eroc does not have a contract with the city to use the location. Eroc, which began operating the brothel in 1998, only has a contract with the former owner, Delta Center, which was supposed to redevelop the area in the 1990s and 2000s but failed to do so. The entire Pražská tržnice is now owned by the City of Prague.
Eroc representative Zbyněk Matula in negotiations with City Hall in December said there were no major issues with the brothel in over 20 years, and that if the brothel closed, 600 sex workers would move to the streets or brothels in the city center.
The city disagrees, and continues to want the brothel shut. The brothel covers nearly 2,000 square meters, and had 158,000 visitors last year.
Prague Market, formerly the Central Slaughterhouse of the Royal City of Prague (Ústřední jatka královského města Prahy), was built in 1983 and inaugurated in 1895. Since 1993 it has been protected as a cultural monument. The area of 103,060 square meters consists of 40 buildings with Art Nouveau and Neo-Renaissance design elements. The architect was Josef Srdínek. The two bull statues at the entrance to the complex are by Czech sculptors Bohuslav Schnirch and Čeněk Vosmík.
People often call it the Holešovice Market (Holešovická tržnice) to avoid confusion with other open-air markets in Prague.