Polish gov't to cover florists' losses after shutting down cemeteries

Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

Polish government agricultural agencies will buy out flowers from traders who stocked up for the All Saints' Day but cannot sell their perishable goods due to Friday's decision to shut down cemeteries, PM Mateusz Morawiecki said on Saturday.

"In accordance with my yesterday's declaration on helping those retailers who will suffer due to the closing of cemeteries, local branches of ARiMR and KOWR (government agricultural agencies - PAP) will buy flowers and plants that would have been sold in those days in front of cemeteries from producers and retailers. We will also reimburse from the COVID-19 fund the costs borne by local governments that are running similar actions," Morawiecki wrote in a Saturday Facebook post.

Morawiecki at a Friday afternoon conference announced the cemetery ban which is aimed to stop people from mass gathering during Sunday's traditional Catholic holidays All Saints' Day and Monday's All Souls' Day. Cemeteries remain closed from Saturday till Monday.

In a Twitter post later on Friday the prime minister wrote that the government within three days' time would prepare aid for retailers who incurred losses.

On the two days, Catholics traditionally visit the graves of their relatives, lit candles and leave flowers on the graves.

In his Saturday post, Morawiecki asked people to "understand the difficult decision that we had to make due to the pandemic."

Deputy Development Minister Olga Semeniuk, at a press conference later on Saturday, said that the government had already earmarked PLN 180 mln (EUR 39 mln) to support plant and candle producers and traders, adding it was just the first stage of government support for those whose sales were expected to drop due to the closing of cemeteries.

The deputy minister expressed thanks to local governments that had decided to support their local entrepreneurs.

Some local governments have already started purchasing flowers and plants from the distressed retailers.