Poland prolongs all coronavirus restrictions

Morawiecki said that analyses confirm the effectiveness of the strategy applied by the authorities. Paweł Supernak/PAP

The Polish government will prolong all restrictions put in place, so far, to fight the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Thursday.

All to-date restrictions are to remain in place until April 19. The upheld measures mean that Poles can leave their homes only for essential reasons, including travel to work, to visit doctors and to shop for essential items or to walk their dogs.

People are also allowed to go out to help the elderly and family members. Poles are completely banned from gathering in groups of three or more, unless they are members of a single household. Religious gatherings may involve only five persons at one time.

Schools and kindergartens will remain closed until, at least, April 26.

Air traffic suspension and border controls were prolonged by two weeks. The government will keep all borders closed to foreigners for a longer period, until May 3.

The restrictions also limit the operation of courts and state administrations, with only larger rooms being allowed for use when a few employees have to work together.

Museums, libraries, entertainment facilities, restaurants and bars will continue to be closed, as will shopping centres, apart from food stores which may operate under special rules. All stores selling building supplies are to be closed on weekends. Furthermore, all hairdressers, beauty salons, tattoo and piercing establishments will also remain closed. All non-essential rehabilitation treatments are cancelled.

Also closed are hotels and other accommodation facilities, with the exception of places used as temporary hostels for employees, or for quarantine.

Parks and recreation places remain closed. Public transport is limited to one passenger per two seats.

In workplaces, a distance of one-and-a-half metres will have to be maintained and disinfection agents will have to be provided.

On Thursday, the government also introduced the obligation to wear face masks or other face and nose covering materials in public. The new rule will take effect next Thursday.

PM Morawiecki told a press conference that analyses confirm the effectiveness of the strategy applied by the authorities, and added that "there is a chance of assuming control over the spread of coronavirus."

Morawiecki also announced that plans aimed at the return to the new economic reality will be presented after Easter.

The PM also expressed the opinion that Polish businesses and the Polish economy, although somewhat "bruised", will come out of this crisis stronger than others.

Morawiecki added that the decisive phase in the fight against coronavirus is still ahead and, unfortunately, it will fall during the Easter holidays. "We all know how important these holidays are for families, but once again appealed: "Let's stay at home, as this is working very well in Poland."

The first restrictions were announced in Poland on March 8, with a general lockdown imposed on March 24 for all citizens, except for travel to work and for essential needs.