Polish cross-border workers stage protests against restrictions

The protests were held on the German border in Rosówek (pictured), Gubin, Kostrzyn nad Odrą, Leknica, Słubice, Zgorzelec and Porajów. Several protests were mirrored on the German side of the border. Marcin Bielecki/PAP

Residents of a number of Polish towns on the German and Czech borders protested on Friday against restrictions that cut them off from their jobs or left them stranded in nearby German and Czech locations.

Many Poles living close to the German and Czech borders travel to work abroad every day. However, on March 13, the Polish government introduced restrictions on cross-border traffic, including a 14-day quarantine requirement for all Poles crossing the border back to Poland, to stem the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

The decision has left many local residents jobless, or stranded on the other side of the border as they were trying to keep their jobs and provide a livelihood for their families.

The protests were held on the German border in Rosówek, Gubin, Kostrzyn nad Odrą, Leknica, Słubice, Zgorzelec and Porajów. Several protests were mirrored on the German side of the border.

On the Czech border, protests were held in Chałupki.

Government spokesperson Piotr Mueller said on Saturday that the government will discuss the problem the following week based on foreign infection data, but added that a full re-opening of borders "is probably still a long way away."

"The government will discuss this issue next week and will probably make decisions on the dates, but don't forget that behind our borders, for instance in Germany, the situation concerning infections is much more difficult," Mueller said.

On Saturday, a similar protest was held in Cieszyn on the border with the Czech Republic, with 300-400 people walking along the Polish side of the River Olza, keeping their distance and wearing masks as the protesters were trying to comply with the restrictions on gatherings. They brandished banners with slogans including "We want to go to work!" and "Let us travel to work and return home!"

Several dozen people protested on the Czech side of the river.