Poles will no longer be obliged to wear facemasks in open public spaces from May 30, the government said on May 27, announcing a new wave of relaxing of the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
Poland had 22,473 confirmed coronavirus cases as of May 27, including 1,028 deaths, the health ministry said on the same day. “Most of Poland shows a declining trend of new cases,” Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski told a press conference during which he and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki offered details on the lifting of restrictions.
“We have controlled the pandemic much more efficiently than the world’s richest countries,” Morawiecki said, referring to how infections and fatal cases have unfolded in Sweden and Belgium.
Poland’s economy is forecast to shrink 7%-8% in 2020 as a result of lockdown measures introduced by the Law and Justice (PiS) government in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The government has launched a fiscal package equal to 13% of Poland’s GDP to reduce the impact of the pandemic. Poland could also benefit from the €500bn EU Recovery Fund, proposed recently by France and Germany, although Warsaw is keen to discuss what its contribution to the fund will be and what it will receive back.
Starting on May 30, facemasks will no longer be required outside as long as people maintain social distancing. Masks will still be obligatory in public transport, shops, cinemas and theatres, churches, and public offices.
Also from May 30, there will no longer be limits of how many people can shop or dine at restaurants but sanitary measures - like disinfecting hands or setting tables apart to ensure distancing - will remain.
May 30 will also see the reopening of open-air fitness grounds and playgrounds.
Hotels are also reopening on May 30 while facilities like swimming pools, fitness clubs, amusement parks, as well as cinemas and theatres, will reopen on July 6.
Public gatherings, live performances, and weddings – as long as not bigger than 150 people – will be allowed from May 30 with participants having to maintain distancing or wear masks.
Some experts expressed doubt on the timing of the easing. Poland’s coronavirus cases are not showing a downward tendency, having remained flat at roughly 300-400 cases daily for weeks now.
“Some people might think we are past the worst now but in reality, we are still in the same situation [of the number of cases flat rather than decreasing],” epidemiologist Agnieszka Szuster-Ciesielska told private broadcaster TVN24.