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According to a UCE RESEARCH and SYNO Poland public opinion survey commissioned by "Gazeta Wyborcza", nearly 56% of respondents asked whether the government should extend the national quarantine said “no”.
Less than 31% wanted further pandemic-related restrictions, while 13.3 % of respondents had no opinion.
- People are on the brink of exhaustion, even if in front of themselves and others they often pretend that everything is fine. Keeping people locked inside their homes for an extended period of time also creates all sorts of other problems, such as greater inequality and violence– says the chief analyst at UCE RESEARCH, Krzysztof Zych.
On top of that, many people have stopped seeking medical help because they are simply afraid to go to the hospital- he adds.
Who doesn’t mind extending lockdown measures?
It’s mostly male respondents who are in favor of further extending the pandemic-related restrictions. More precisely, men aged 56-80, with primary-level education, from towns with a population of 100,000 - 199,000, and 200,000 - 499.000. According to researchers, this indicates that the group supporting further restrictions is also the least affected one, at least in terms of their finances.
How much longer should the national quarantine last? The most frequent answer: until there’s a sharp decline in cases of infection. Possibly until mid or late February.
- The available data clearly show that proponents of extending lockdown measures are radical. And I'm afraid it would be hard to convince them to change their mind- Mr. Zych says.
The cure cannot be worse than the disease. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing right now– he adds.
That is why people start to defy lockdown restrictions on an unprecedented scale.
Restaurants and hotels are opening their doors
According to a study commissioned by the BIG InfoMonitor Debtors Register, 36% of Polish businesses are afraid they’ll go bankrupt. Social discontent is growing because businesses are already up against the wall.
Each day, ever more restaurants, bars, and guesthouses announce opening their doors despite the government-imposed restrictions.
- If we decided to stay closed, we’d have gone bankrupt within weeks. We would have to let all our employees go," says Paulina Panek, the owner of Laser Entertainment Center in Zamość.
The laser-shooting center is also a restaurant. However, food and drinks are served on disposable plates and in paper cups.
"We won't wait any longer. I talked to the owners of many restaurants in Legionowo today. Everyone is fed up, everyone has families and everyone has a right to work. We have employees we’re responsible for. We are opening on Monday," - Maciej Adamski, the owner of Qlturalni Qlinarni, a restaurant in Legionowo, announced on social media.
U Trzech Braci, a restaurant in downtown Cieszyn, opened on January 8.
"This means you’ll be able to visit us again and eat like a normal person, inside the restaurant" - the owners wrote on Facebook.
Sanitary inspectors joined by police officers showed up at the restaurant the next day.
Asked to identify themselves, customers at the restaurant refused, chanting: "Freedom! Freedom!".
Demanding that the government lifts lockdown restrictions, the owners of ski resorts, guesthouses, and restaurants in southern Poland announced a joint protest. The number of supporters of the #OtwieraMy (We’re Opening) initiative on social media is also steadily growing.
Other ways to get around restrictions
Pubs had to close? No problem. You can rent them as office space and have a beer.
Gyms and swimming pools remain closed to the public? All of a sudden it is popular to get a triathlete's license – all it takes is an app, PLN 100, and a medical certificate.
Clubs closed their doors? Depends who’s knocking - one of the biggest clubs in Warsaw is throwing a party this weekend, sending out invitations to its regulars.
What about hotels? Recently, one of the hotels in Władysławowo had been booked for 300 people. The owner explained that the guests were preparing for a chess tournament. Holiday in the mountains? You got it. Ski resorts closed? Not if everyone is sledding.
Business owners demand compensation from the State Treasury
On Monday, the government announced its decision to extend the national quarantine at least until the end of January.
The news sparked fury and left many retail chains affiliated with the Union of Polish Trade and Service Employers confused. The organization brings together over 220 companies employing more than 205,000 workers. Among them, such brands as: Apart, CCC, Kazar, Lancerto, Media Expert, Ochnik, Reserved, etc.
"Enough is enough. Polish business owners and family businesses won’t let themselves be destroyed by discriminatory and arbitrary policies” - they warn, adding - We expect that our stores be open soon.
The Polish Council of Shopping Centres calculated that the restrictions imposed on commercial facilities in Poland have already generated losses amounting to over PLN 32 billion.
Extending the restrictions for another two weeks in January will increase the losses by an additional PLN 2 billion. Class action lawsuits against the State Treasury are expected to follow soon.
The first of such lawsuits has already been submitted to the court on Monday. It was filed by owners of travel agencies, agents and tour guides, as well as hotel owners. They want to prove that freezing the economy by means of regulations instead of introducing a state of natural disaster was unlawful. Club owners will file their lawsuits later this week. Owners of event venues are next in line.
How will the government respond?
How the government plans to deal with all that remains a mystery. On Tuesday, "Wyborcza" sent an inquiry to Jarosław Gowin, the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for the economy. Our question read: ever more owners decide to open their businesses despite the ban. Would the ministry like to comment on this? Does the Minister support sending police officers and sanitary inspectors to these people?
We are waiting to hear back.
Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronavirus pandemic for you.
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