Poland adopts nationwide ‘red zone’ lockdown

A man wearing a protective coverall fills up the form before performing tests for the coronavirus disease at a drive-thru testing centre in Warsaw, Poland, October 2, 2020. — Reuters pic
A man wearing a protective coverall fills up the form before performing tests for the coronavirus disease at a drive-thru testing centre in Warsaw, Poland, October 2, 2020. — Reuters pic

WARSAW, Oct 23 — Poland’s prime minister said today that “red zone” measures including the partial closure of primary schools and restaurants would be adopted nationwide in the face of a record spike in coronavirus infections.

The move came as the EU country of 38 million people saw a new 24-hour record of 13,632 coronavirus cases today.

Half of Poland, mostly large cities and surrounding areas, was already designated a high-risk “red zone” last Saturday on top of a previous rule making face masks mandatory in public places.

“All of Poland will be designated a red zone as of tomorrow,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a virtual press conference.

He said the new measures are tailored to ensure “that the economy works faster than during the spring” lockdown, which was more restrictive.

Poland’s economy is expected to shrink by 3.6 per cent this year, according to an International Monetary Fund estimate, giving it among the best outcomes in the European Union.

Morawiecki already advised “everyone who can to work remotely” as of last week.

As of tomorrow, primary schools will be partially closed with only grades one to three attending classes.

Older pupils will join secondary school and university students in distance learning.

Morawiecki also asked all seniors over the age of 70 to stay home and said a special “senior support corps” of volunteers would be formed to tend to their needs.

Restaurants, cafes and pubs will only be able to serve take-away meals. Fitness clubs and pools are also closed.

Gatherings will be limited to five people, with weddings banned and strict limits on the numbers of people allowed in shops, on public transport and at religious services.

Poland’s national stadium is being transformed into a field hospital for Warsaw and the government is building temporary medical facilities elsewhere, as the surge in coronavirus cases strains healthcare facilities to breaking point. — AFP

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