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English Section

UPDATE:  Stricter COVID-19 rules in Poland on face masks, border crossings

24.02.2021 16:40
Poles will from Saturday no longer be able to use scarves, bandanas and plastic visors instead of masks to cover their face in public as the government sharpens COVID-19 rules amid a spike in infections.
Health Minister Adam Niedzielski appears on a screen, addressing reporters remotely on Wednesday.
Health Minister Adam Niedzielski appears on a screen, addressing reporters remotely on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Meanwhile, anyone crossing the borders with Poland’s southern neighbours, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, will have to go into quarantine unless a test carried out in the last 48 hours shows they do not have the coronavirus.

The new rules were announced by Health Minister Adam Niedzielski as the number of fresh coronavirus infections in Poland rose to 12,146 on Wednesday, a jump of almost 3,500 compared to a week ago.

The epidemic has claimed the lives of over 42,000 Poles since it hit the country last March.

In another move announced on Wednesday, a swathe of restrictions on public life will be reintroduced in the Warmińsko-mazurskie region of north-eastern Poland, where the level of infections has caused concern.

Hotels, shopping malls, cinemas, theatres, museums and swimming pools there will have to shut, while young schoolchildren in the region will have to return to remote lessons.

"Until now, our moves to ease restrictions were very brave, and now we have to take the proverbial half a step back,” Niedzielski told reporters, in reference to the north-eastern province.

He added that anti-virus restrictions in the rest of the country would remain unchanged.

‘Situation does not look good’

"Unfortunately, the situation does not look good at the moment," Niedzielski said earlier on Wednesday.

After a prolonged period of distance learning, Poland in the middle of last month reopened schools for young children amid signs at the time of a let-up in the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In a further easing of curbs, shopping malls, museums and art galleries across the country were allowed to reopen earlier this month.

Meanwhile, restrictions on hotels, entertainment venues and outdoor sports areas including ski slopes were partially lifted on February 12.

Third wave

But Health Minister Niedzielski warned last week that the daily number of new COVID-19 infections in the country was starting to rise again in a worrying new trend.

Health ministry spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz declared last Friday that a third wave of the epidemic had started in Poland.

Poland on Wednesday reported 12,146 new coronavirus infections and 372 more deaths, bringing its total number of cases during the pandemic to 1,661,109 and fatalities to 42,808.

Poland’s southern neighbour Slovakia, a country of 5.5 million, has suffered about 100 deaths per day recently, the highest in the world relative to population on a one-week basis, the Reuters news agency reported, citing data tracker ourworldindata.org.