At a Wednesday press conference, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced a series of new restrictions which essentially bring the country into a lockdown. He warned that November might turn out to be the most difficult month in the entire pandemic, which is why the response must be decisive.
The new restrictions will be in place starting Saturday and Monday for schools and will last until Nov. 29.
The prime minister informed that every class in primary schools will now move to online teaching and promised financial aid to help teachers purchase accessories for working from home. Kindergartens will remain open and available to children without any further changes.
All cultural sites such as museums, theaters, cinemas, and art galleries will be temporarily closed to lower social mobility. Morawiecki re-emphasized the need to stay home and limit social contact as much as possible.
Hotels will be accessible only to visitors on business trips. Shops in malls will be closed apart from groceries, pharmacies, drugstores and service points. In smaller shops of up to 100 square meters, only one person can be present for every 10 square meters. In shops above 100 square meters, the limit remains for one person per 15 square meters.
The head of Polish government also stated that precise information concerning the operation of service points such as barbers or cosmeticians will be released on Thursday. He added, however, that these services will remain open under a strict sanitary regime until a national quarantine would have to be declared.
The prime minister outlined the so-called “stages of security”.
If the pandemic exceeds 70 to 75 infection cases for 100,000 people, a national quarantine will be imposed. This would involve very strict rules on movement and traveling. If the number of infections goes down to 20 to 25 cases per 100,000, there will be a possible return to the “red zone” rules. A drop below 25 cases per 100,000 will allow the government to return to “yellow zone” restrictions.
Currently, the rate in Poland is 56 infections cases per 100,000 people.
Morawiecki also urged people who are participating in protests to stay at home and protest online if they feel it is necessary. He warned that protesting in public space would lead to a rapid increase in infection, as proven by scientists. He added that the consequences of not adhering to restrictions would show themselves with a two-week delay.
“Dear countrymen, I’d like to say that the worst is behind us, but unfortunately, that would be premature. We do not know what awaits us, but most likely — though not certainty — if we abide by these new restrictions, the situation will improve,” the prime minister said.