Polish government imposes further virus counter-measures

2020-10-15 19:22 update: 2020-10-16, 13:08
Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki. Phot. PAP/Marcin Obara
Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki. Phot. PAP/Marcin Obara
The Polish government has tightened the restrictions applying to coronavirus 'yellow zones,' and extended 'red zones' to include 152 counties including 11 major cities, or about half the population.

The number of counties in the red zone has been increased to 152 from 38 after Poland reported the highest daily total of coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Thursday at a joint press conference with the Ministry of Health. PM Morawiecki ruled out a second lockdown. 

Morawiecki told reporters that, in red zones, the number of people at retail premises will be capped at five per checkout, a ban will apply to events such as wedding receptions from October 19, and other gatherings will be limited to 10 people while religious ceremonies will be limited to one person per seven square metres. Middle and high schools will be taught remotely. 

The red zone covers, among others, 11 province capital cities, including Warsaw, Gdansk, Gdynia, Krakow, Poznan and Lodz. All other counties remain in the yellow zone.

In yellow zones, restaurants will be allowed to function between 6 am and 9 pm, after which they will be takeaway only, there will be a cap of gatherings at 25, with religious ceremonies capped at one person per four square meters, and middle and high schools will function in a 'hybrid' mode, mixing traditional and distance learning. The new rules come into effect on October 17. The prime minister did not rule out introducing distance learning for primary schools if the new measures fail to stem the spread of COVID-19.
 
Swimming pools, aqua-parks and gyms will also be closed in yellow zones, travel by public transport will be limited to 50 percent of seating capacity or 30 percent of total capacity.
 
The prime minister added that from October 19 there would be a limit on the number of people taking part in gatherings such as wedding receptions in yellow zones. The Government Information Centre said the limit would be 20 people, with no dancing permitted. Other gatherings are limited to 25 people. Sporting events will be held without spectators, the PM said.

From October 15 a senior-citizen's shopping period applies in shops, pharmacies and post offices, between 10:00 and 12:00 when only people over 60 are allowed in. 

Morawiecki said the current situation is different from that in March and April as then the virus outbreaks were in hot-spots whereas currently infections are much more widespread. He said the spread of COVID-19 must be stemmed "at all costs," adding that the scale of the pandemic depended on the public's adherence to the new sanitary regime. 
 
The administrative division of Poland includes 314 counties (powiats) and 66 cities with county status. (PAP)