Poland imposes tighter restrictions, does not rule out full lockdown

Paweł Supernak/PAP

As of Saturday, October 24, new and tighter government restrictions will take effect in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. The measures include the closure of restaurants for two weeks and remote schooling for grades four to eight in elementary schools.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki did not rule out a 'full-scale' lockdown.

The prime minister stated that if the tighter restrictions, to be introduced on Saturday, did not bring about desirable results, it would be necessary to further close down other spheres of cultural, economic and social life.

He said that the government did rule out a 'full-scale' lockdown, if such a need arises, that would include the closure of borders and restrictions regarding the movement of people, as well as "the closure of many spheres of life."

The following restrictions will come into effect on Saturday, October 24: 

- The entire territory of Poland will become a 'red' zone; 

- Restaurant activity will be limited for two weeks to serving only takeaway food;

- Grades four to eight in elementary schools will switch to remote learning; 

- Secondary schools and higher learning institutions will switch to remote learning.

- Between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., children under the age of 16 will be allowed to leave their homes only in the company of an adult;

- Spectators will be banned from sporting events;

- There will be a 25-percent cap on audiences at all cultural events;

- Swimming pools, aquaparks and fitness clubs will be closed;

- Sanatoria will be closed;

- The number of people at retail premises of up to 100 square metres will be capped at five per checkout; 

- The number of customers in retail premises above 100 square metres will be limited to one person per 15 square metres;

- Public transport will be limited to 50 percent of seating capacity or 30 percent of total capacity;

- Gatherings of more than five people will be banned, except for people living together in one home;

- Persons aged 70 and above are to encouraged to stay at home, apart from performing their professional activities, meeting their essential daily needs and participating in religious ceremonies.

The PM said that the effects of the new restrictions may come after 10 to 14 days, adding that everyone must patiently comply with the new regime.

Morawiecki admitted that although the new restrictions are serious, he nevertheless hopes that the economy will operate at a much faster pace than in spring.

"We are not shutting down production or service plants, but we are making an appeal: strict, absolute sanitary rules should apply everywhere. They must be in force so that these plants can operate in a week or two and in the longer term so that the restrictions would not have to be even more serious," Morawiecki said.

He stated that government experts and scientists are making it clear that coronavirus transmission must be stopped. "We have to stay home."