PM announces border lockdown, other virus countermeasures

In the wake of the coronavirus hazard, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has introduced a state of epidemic threat, in force as of Saturday, which will include controls on the country’s borders and numerous restrictions imposed on services such as pubs and shopping malls.

All air and railway services to abroad are halted as of Sunday, 12 AM.

“We decided to “restore” borders for 10 days with the possibility of extension. The borders are to remain open to the flow of goods”, the Prime Minister said. Moreover, foreigners will not be allowed to cross the Polish frontier until further notice as of midnight March 15, with an exception of those who work in Poland. Such people will have to be put under 14 days of quarantine.

“Polish citizens will be directed to a 14-day quarantine after crossing the border. They will not be left without help”, he added.

“Poland is one of the largest food producers in Europe. Shops, services and banks will not all cease to operate,” he added.

The functioning of the shopping malls will be restricted as of midnight straddling March 13/14. Only retailers such as pharmacies, groceries and laundry points are to remain open in order to avoid too many people gathering in one place.

Pubs, coffee shops, restaurants and nightclubs will be closed for 14 days. Mass gatherings all over the country, on the other hand, will be limited to 50 people.

“Prevention is our main goal. Some Western European countries introduced precautionary measures even one to three weeks too late. Unfortunately, we expect an increase in the number of cases in the coming days,” Prime Minister Morawiecki said, adding that the Polish health system “must be able to provide adequate resources”.

In reaction with the introduction of the state of epidemic threat in Poland, the chairman of the Polish Episcopate Stanisław Gądecki announced that during each mass, a maximum 50 people will be allowed to stay inside the church.

As of Friday afternoon, 521 people in Poland are hospitalised with suspected coronavirus infection; 3151 people stay under quarantine, and 17,784 are under epidemiological supervision.

The total number of people infected has increased to 68. One patient died on Thursday in Poznań. Her condition was already serious and she was suffering from additional diseases.