Prague Stores Find Loophole in Mandatory Holiday Closing

October 28 is the first national holiday during which large shops must close, but some have found a loophole to stay open

Earlier this month, a new law went into effect stating that all large shops – over 200 square meters in size – must close on seven significant state holidays.

Those dates are New Year’s Day, Easter Monday, Liberation Day (May 8), Czech Statehood Day (September 28), Independent Czechoslovak State Day (October 28), Christmas Day, and St. Stephen’s Day – making October 28, 2016, the first national holiday during which the ban takes effect.

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The ban has an exemption for stores under 200 square meters in size, pharmacies and gas stations, and shops located in hospitals, airports, and train stations.

While almost all supermarkets will be closed, Albert had initially announced that its stores at metro stations, such as those at Můstek, would remain open, as the metro technically could be classified as a train station.

Today, however, the company has backed off that stance, reports iHned. Only one Albert in Prague will remain open tomorrow, a small market at Náměstí Míru. 

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Other large stores, however, have found a kind of loophole, and will remain open. If not exactly “in business.” They’re taking the law to the letter and restricting onsite sales, while still operating under other guises.

Hamley’s, for example – the newly-opened, two-floor children’s store on Na příkopě touted as one of the largest toy shops in Europe – will not be selling toys tomorrow. But its doors will remain open for visitors to come in and ride the carousel or take part in other free non-retail activities, according to Aktuálně.cz

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Then there’s Alza.cz, which operates a large showroom in Holešovice. That “showroom” will remain open tomorrow – along with computer terminals that allow users to process online payments and pick up electronic goods directly onsite.

These merchants might be skirting the new law, and certainly aren’t following the spirit of it. It’s unclear, for example, what exactly constitutes an online payment, and other merchants may follow suit. Still, they risk a fine of up to 1 million CZK if Czech Trade Inspection authorities disagree with their interpretation of the law.

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While many malls throughout the country will be closed tomorrow, Palladium and other Prague shopping centers such as those in Letňany, Metropole, Černý Most, Chodov, and Nový Smíchov will be open. Still, stores within them larger than 200 square meters are required to be shuttered. 


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