Polish retail lobby urges gov't to liberalise rules amid epidemic

The reinstatement of the Sunday trade could help shorten queues and reduce organisational problems in shops, while the requirement to sell food, including bread, in plastic bags could increase food safety, the PIH said. Leszek Szymański/PAP

The Polish Chamber of Trade (PIH) on Tuesday appealed to the government for temporary measures to streamline the supplies of food amid the spreading coronavirus epidemic, including lifting the Sunday trade ban and facilitating temporary employment.

The main problem for the retail sector is the lack of workers, the PIH wrote in a press release. "It is crucial to ensure adequate numbers of motivated workers and safety products. We suggest that the government should introduce, as quickly as possible, 'a package for ensuring continuing supplies of food'," Maciej Ptaszynski, PIH deputy president, was quoted as saying in the press release.

According to the PIH, labour shortages have resulted from employee-related factors, such as child care and concerns over getting infected, as well as regulations, including a lack of the possibility to employ temporary workers, mainly from Ukraine, who constitute about 30 percent of distribution centres' personnel.

The PIH suggested the government should introduce such solutions as financial support for parents who decide to go to work and easier temporary employment in the retail and food production sectors, including the extension of current visas and work permits for temporary workers from Ukraine.

The reinstatement of the Sunday trade could help shorten queues and reduce organisational problems in shops, while the requirement to sell food, including bread, in plastic bags could increase food safety, the PIH said.

The lobby has also appealed for better access to hygiene products, including sanitisers, gloves and masks.

The Polish Chamber of Trade associates 30,000 shops, distributors and food and drugstore warehouses, as well as companies linked to the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector.