Polish PM, opposition leaders meet over pandemic strategy

Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Polish opposition leaders held talks with the prime minister on the government's strategy in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, but the results of talks seem vague.

The government side was represented by Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the ruling party, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) and also a deputy PM, and Adam Niedzielski, the health minister.

PiS will present a new draft law introducing more effective measures in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday or Thursday, according to Piotr Mueller, the government spokesman.

Mueller said the government will amend the already existing draft legislation - the so-called Hoc bill, which gives employers the right to verify whether their employees have been vaccinated - with new solutions suggested both by the opposition and the government.

However, Mueller gave no examples of such solutions.

Borys Budka, leader of the main opposition group, the centrist Civic Coalition (KO), said after the meeting that he was disappointed with the meeting.

"We expected tangible solutions, but we didn't get any draft law or ordinance in writing," Budka complained.

"One thing is certain: Today we forced the government to prepare by tomorrow... detailed legal solutions," Budka said. "We told them that only detailed solutions can form a basis for joint work in parliament."

Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, leader if the pro-farmer Polish People's Party (PSL), confirmed that the government had pledged to present a relevant bill on Wednesday.

MPs representing the Left walked out of the meeting early.

"It is an absurd situation where we are invited once again to a meeting for talks," said the Left's Marcelina Zawisza. "Talks do not save lives, tangible laws and ordinances do," she added.

Krzysztof Bosak, a leader of the far-right Confederation party, which is sceptical of any restrictions on non-vaccinated people as well as other tougher measures, said the government's proposals went in the wrong direction.

According to Bosak, the government's suggestions focus on matters "that are completely irrelevant from the patient's point of view."

"The government, seeing the failure of its centralism, has decided to go further into centralism and healthcare management through penalties," Bosak said. "It will bring us no good, it's the completely wrong direction to go."

Poland has been struggling to contain the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, now dominated by the highly-infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but daily infections have spiked to well over 30,000 in recent weeks and are set to rise even higher.