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We don’t have to choose between a complete lack of restrictions and a full lockdown. There is a third option, a middle path we can take. We want to tighten the restrictions, but we also want to do it in a way that won’t paralyze the economy. We want to protect both our economy and the lives of our citizens – Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said during a Thursday press conference.

Before the conference, the Prime Minister met with the Crisis Management Team to discuss the government’s coronavirus response. Earlier that day, the Ministry of Health reported another record in daily coronavirus infections: 8099 new cases. 91 people have died. 6538 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients are occupied. 508 patients require mechanical ventilation.

The Prime Minister has recommended the public to „stay at home”. –If you have the possibility to work remotely, you should use it – he emphasized. – The isolation of elderly people and our readiness to help them will determine the success of our measures.

- The only way we can win this battle is if we act in solidarity and faithfully adopt the sanitary guidelines- said Morawiecki. He further added that there are currently no plans to introduce remote learning in primary schools.

Additional restrictions will come into effect this Saturday (October 17).

More cities become „red zones”

-We need to hit the brake and reduce our social interactions to a minimum. The limits of our healthcare system are being tested. If we don’t hit the brakes now, we will be faced with a grim scenario- warned the Minister of Health, Adam Niedzielski.

He also announced that an updated list of areas classified as “yellow” and “red” zones will step into force this Saturday. Currently, with 152 districts classified as “red zones”, nearly half of the country lives under a tightened sanitary regime. – Most of these districts are densely populated areas. They make up more than 70% of Poland’s population – Mr. Niedzielski pointed out.

As a reminder: The regional color-coded system introduced by the government is based on data regarding local infection rates. Respective colors (yellow and red) mean specific restrictions such as mandatory face masks in public spaces, shorter opening hours for bars, restaurants, and other gastronomic businesses, and limits regarding the number of participants in events or gatherings.

All districts with a 7-days incidence ratio between 6-12 per 10.000 inhabitants become classified as “yellow zones”. The list of “red zones”, on the other hand, includes districts where the incidence ratio per 10.000 inhabitants exceeds 12 cases.

The newly updated list of „red zones” includes such cities as: Białystok, Bydgoszcz, Częstochowa, Kielce, Kraków, Lublin, Łódź, Przemyśl, Poznań, Rzeszów, Warsaw, and the entire coastal Tri-city (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot).

A record number of new infections: additional restrictions

Shortly before the Thursday press conference, in an interview with the first public radio channel, the government’s press secretary, Piotr Müller, was asked about Poland’s coronavirus response strategy- Considering this week's data (including the numbers for today), if the forecasts are confirmed, further restrictions will be taken. The restrictions will concern the limit of people in some public places, but they will not be as radical as they were in spring – he said.

Already last Saturday, the Prime Minister announced that the restrictions followed in “yellow zones” will be expanded onto the entire country. It means that wearing face masks is now mandatory everywhere in public (the only exceptions being parks and forests), not only indoors. Moreover, “dancing areas” in restaurants and bars will also be banned.

On Thursday (October 14), the government also introduced „senior hours”: between Monday and Friday, between 10:00 am and noon, grocery stores and pharmacies will be reserved exclusively for citizens over 60 years of age.

In addition to already existing restrictions, starting this Saturday (October 17), an entire list of new measures will be stepping into force in the respective color-coded zones.

New restrictions in „yellow zones”:

  • Businesses offering gastronomic services will be allowed to open between 6 am and 9 pm (takeout and delivery services are still allowed after 9:00 pm)
  • In public transport, the available seating capacity cannot exceed 50% of the total available seats (the available capacity including standing places cannot exceed 30%)
  • Public gatherings limited to 25 people
  • High schools and universities have to switch to a hybrid teaching mode
  • No audiences at sporting events
  • Water parks, pools, and gyms will be closed
  • Seating capacity at cultural events limited to 25%
  • One person per 4 square meters during religious ceremonies
  • Starting October 19, weddings and other private events will be limited to 20 people (no dancing)

New restrictions in „red zones”:

  • Businesses offering gastronomic services: same as in “yellow zones”. Additionally, only every second table can be occupied
  • The number of customers in stores will be limited to 5 people per one cash register
  • Ban on private parties and family events such as weddings
  • High schools and universities switch to remote learning
  • Public transport, cultural events, sporting events: same as in „yellow zones”
  • One person per 7 square meters during religious ceremonies

 ***

Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronavirus pandemic for you.

They are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities. They work on the ground, reporting from hospitals and airports.

We have decided to open online access to our news stories and special guides focused on the issue of public health, for free.

The access to information should be equal for all.

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