Poland to loosen COVID-19 restrictions from April 20: PM

From April 20, we are beginning to gradually remove certain restrictions introduced in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki during a press conference held on Thursday.

“Today, we are launching a counterattack. I am convinced that we have the right tools for this”, the PM said.

“To a large extent, we managed to avoid the uncontrolled increases in infections and deaths, observed in Western countries”, he added.

Mateusz Morawiecki also spoke about "careful steps to build a new economic reality". The PM mentioned the Three “I" principle, which [in Polish] stands for: Isolation, Identification, and Computerisation.

“Isolation means, for example, wearing masks and keeping a distance. Identification - we will try to master the art of research, who had contact with whom”, the Prime Minister said, adding that an application for people in quarantines is being developed. Computerisation, in turn, is the assumption that as much work which does not require direct contact as possible must be done remotely.

Four-stage plan

“Over certain intervals, we plan to gradually lift the restrictions in four stages. Today, we are introducing the first of them, while the next ones will be introduced depending on the new infection count and the situation in hospitals”, PM Morawiecki said.

The first part to the relaxing of restrictions, which come into force as of April 20, are the opening of forests and parks, free movement for recreational purposes while maintaining at least a two-metre distance and covering mouth and nose. In terms of trade regulations, in stores up to 100 square metres space, no more than four people will be allowed to queue at each checkout. In turn, a person per 15 square metres will be allowed to enter the stores larger than the aforementioned. The latter rule will also apply to churches. As the Prime Minister added, farmers are exempt from the obligation to wear protective masks in public.

The second stage concerns the opening of DIY stores at weekends, the opening of hotels and other accommodation, opening of libraries, museums, and art galleries. In the third stage, the government has envisaged relaxations such as the opening of stationary gastronomy (with certain restrictions included), stores in shopping malls, hairdressing and beauty salons, the organisation of sporting events with the participation of up to 50 people in open space (without attendance), of childcare in crèches, kindergartens, school primary school grades 1-3 (with maximum number of children in a class set out). In the fourth stage, the opening of gyms, solariums, massage salons, theaters and cinemas in the new sanitary regime will be taken into consideration.

The Prime Minister pointed out that with the gradual loosening of restrictions, it is simultaneously necessary to maintain social distancing.

Asked about when the government considers lifting the ban on organising mass events, he said that they are banned until further notice, and, for now, their restoration is not expected even at the last stage of the loosening of restrictions.

Mateusz Morawiecki added that Poland's borders would remain closed. They were temporarily closed on March 15, and they are to remain so until at least May 3.