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UPDATE: New restrictions as Poland steps up battle against COVID-19

15.10.2020 19:24
Tougher rules to battle COVID-19 will be introduced in Poland, with the number of “red” zones - those with the most severe restrictions - to be upped so they cover almost half the country, officials said on Thursday after a record daily rise in coronavirus cases.
PM Mateusz Morawiecki during a televised press conference on Thursday.
PM Mateusz Morawiecki during a televised press conference on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

Secondary schools and universities in such areas, which will include Warsaw, will have to switch to distance learning, while wedding parties will not be allowed, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters.

Restrictions on shops, social gatherings

Outlining further new restrictions in areas worst hit by the virus, Morawiecki said that from Saturday the number of customers in shops would be restricted to five per till, while people would be able to meet socially in groups of no more than ten.

On buses, metros and trams in these areas, half the available number of seats will have to be left unoccupied.

"We want to implement restrictions that will protect us against the spread of the coronavirus, but at the same time we want the economy to be working as much as possible," Morawiecki said.

The new restrictions were announced after Poland on Thursday reported a record daily rise in coronavirus infections for the second consecutive day, confirming 8,099 new cases, the most since the pandemic hit the country in early March.

The death toll increased by 91, according to public health authorities.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said 152 regions would be designated as “red”, adding that these were densely populated areas in which over 70 percent of Poland’s population live.

Niedzielski told reporters: "We must be aware that we are testing the limits of the capabilities of the health service".

He added, however, that the number of hospitals beds allocated to COVID-19 patients was being increased.

Swimming pools, aqua parks, gyms to shut

In zones designated as “yellow” - areas judged to have the second-highest level of risk - restaurants will be allowed to serve nothing but takeaways after 9pm, while swimming pools, aqua parks and gyms will have to shut, Morawiecki said.

Sports events will take place without fans being allowed in to watch.

Gatherings in such areas will be limited to 25 people, while secondary schools and colleges will have to offer a mix of remote lessons and in-person classes.

A total of 149,903 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Poland since the pandemic began, and 3,308 have died in connection with the COVID-19 respiratory disease so far, officials said earlier on Thursday.

(pk)

Source: PAP