As of October 7, 150.000 people in Poland have been quarantined due to Covid-19. By October 16, the number has already more than doubled. If the trend continues at its current pace, soon over a million people will have to undergo mandatory isolation. What are the rules and what to keep in mind while in quarantine?
1. Who needs to quarantine?
There are two groups of people required to undergo mandatory quarantine:
- Foreigners entering Poland from neighboring countries that are not EU member states, i.e. citizens of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.
Important! All persons to whom the rule applies will be asked to quarantine immediately after arriving at the address they have indicated while crossing the border. Polish citizens and foreigners who are spouses or children of Polish citizens, but also foreigners with a right of permanent or temporary residence in Poland are exempt from this rule. Some people crossing into Poland for professional reasons (including vessel or aircraft crew members, and military personnel) are also exempt from mandatory quarantine.
- People who have been in close contact with an infected or potentially infected person, including those whose household members are currently under quarantine. In this case, the sanitary inspectorate will issue a decision regarding mandatory quarantine and inform the affected person in a phone call.
2. Quarantine and isolation. What’s the difference?
The regulation introduced on September 2 defines quarantine and isolation as follows:
- Healthy individuals who have been potentially exposed to Covid-19 will be asked to shelter in place for 10 days under strict guidelines. After that, if the person does not show any symptoms of the disease, the quarantine will end automatically without the need for further testing.
- Individuals who have tested positive for the coronavirus will be put into isolation. If the affected person doesn’t show any symptoms of the disease after 10 days, the isolation will end automatically without the need for further testing. Should symptoms occur during isolation, a primary care doctor will extend the isolation for another 13 days.
The isolated person can shelter at home. However, if a doctor decides it is necessary, the infected patient might also be directed to spend the isolation in a hospital or a special isolation unit. In this case, the doctor taking care of the patient will decide when to end the isolation. This may not take place earlier than 13 days after the first symptoms have occurred, and only if symptoms have not recurred for at least three days. Important! An employee who is absent due to isolation or quarantine is entitled to the same salary as during sick leave, i.e. 80 % of the salary. People whose health condition allows them to perform all their professional duties remotely are entitled to a full salary.
3. What is prohibited?
People in mandatory quarantine or isolation need to respect the following rules:
- Leaving the house is strictly forbidden– going to a grocery store, a pharmacy, visiting a doctor, or walking a dog while in quarantine is banned.
- Should you experience any symptoms of illness, such as malaise, high fever, cough, or shortness of breath, it is necessary to report this by calling the local sanitary and epidemiological station.
To enforce these rules, the police will monitor people in mandatory quarantine or isolation by regularly checking whether they remain in their place of residence. Coronavirus quarantine violations can result in a fine of up to PLN 3000.
4. Where to quarantine?
You must remain in your place of residence. However, if you are concerned about the health of your household members, there is a possibility to undergo the quarantine somewhere else. People who have more than one apartment or holiday home can isolate there. When a person in quarantine shares the household with elderly or sick parents or grandparents, there are no obstacles to living with another family member, e.g., a son or daughter. Appropriate authorities must be notified about the address where the affected person chooses to shelter. For this reason, preparing a plan in advance is recommended.
People afraid of staying at home who do not have any other place at their disposal should immediately inform the proper authorities - they will be sent to an isolation room.
In severe cases, isolation will have to take place in the hospital.
5. What about walking your dog, taking out the trash, or shopping for groceries?
Of course, people having to shelter in place for an extended period of time will face many problems of a practical nature. How should a person in quarantine get the necessary groceries, throw out the trash, or walk a dog? One solution would be to ask your family or neighbors for help. If there are no relatives who could help you, you might want to consider looking for volunteers in your area. There are NGOs and social media groups who provide such help - e.g. the Facebook group "Widzialna Ręka/Visible Hand".
The problem with shopping can also be solved by ordering home delivery. It is not only the large retail chains that offer online shopping services. During the pandemic, many of the local mom-and-pop stores started to offer delivery services as well: you can order your groceries via phone and pay for them online. When using this option, however, remember to inform the seller about your quarantine and ask to leave your grocery bags at the door.
Local Social Welfare Centers provide support to elderly and disabled people. They mobilize volunteers, firefighters, city guards, police officers, or members of Territorial Defense Forces who distribute hot meals and necessary groceries.
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.