Poland introduces new restrictions to fight pandemic

Poland introduces new restrictions to fight pandemic


Poland on Wednesday introduced new restrictions on the numbers of people allowed in restaurants, hotels and theatres as the COVID death toll hit its highest level since April.

The new limits of 30 percent of maximum capacity do not apply for people who have been vaccinated, putting the responsibility for checking vaccination status on business owners.

Legislation allowing employers to verify whether employees have been vaccinated or had a recent test showing they do not have COVID-19 is also making its way through parliament.

The health ministry on Wednesday reported 669 COVID deaths in Poland in the last 24 hours—the highest level since April.

“The overwhelming majority are unvaccinated people,” government spokesman Piotr Muller told private broadcaster Radio Zet.

“The only scientific solutions that are known at the moment are to vaccinate and react quickly when you get sick,” he said.

The health ministry has said it would also like to introduce mandatory vaccination for health workers, teachers and the military from March 1 but the cabinet is divided on the issue.

Also from Wednesday, people flying into Poland from outside the EU’s free travel Schengen area must have proof of a negative test taken no earlier than 24 hours before crossing the border.

Among other measures, schools will switch to remote learning for a few days on either side of the Christmas holidays, meaning that children will be out of school from December 20 to January 9.

Nightclubs will have to close except for New Year’s parties.

Poland’s right-wing populist government has so far been very cautious about following other European countries in embracing vaccine certificates and mandatory vaccinations.

Vaccination hesitancy is still very high in Poland, a country of 38 million people where only around 54 percent of the population is fully vaccinated—one of the lowest levels in the EU.

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