WARSAW (Reuters) – The Polish capital Warsaw will be among cities facing tougher COVID-19 restrictions from Monday, the health minister said in announcing tighter limitations on public life in two more regions to fight a surge in infections.
A highly contagious variant of the virus first identified in Britain has driven spiralling infection rates in Poland, with Thursday’s total of 21,045 coronavirus cases bringing the pandemic back to levels not seen since November.
“When we look at the pandemic situation, it looks like this increase does not show any signs of slowing down,” said Health Minister Adam Niedzielski as he announced the return of stricter curbs in the central Mazowieckie region and Lubuskie in the west.
From Monday, these regions will have to close hotels, cinemas, swimming pools and shopping malls while children in the first three school grades will partly switch to online learning.
Mazowieckie and Lubuskie will join the northern regions of Warminsko-Mazurskie and Pomorskie as areas with the tightest restrictions.
Poland eased some restrictions last month, reopening ski slopes as well as cinemas, hotels and theatres for up to 50% capacity, which initially resulted in massive tourist visits to popular ski resorts.
The government then resumed curbs in the northern regions as they reported a higher infection rate per 100,000 people than other parts of the country.
Niedzielski did not rule out a return to tougher rules across the entire country.
“At the moment, we have decided to introduce restrictions in these two regions, but there is indeed a possibility…that the next restrictions will be introduced nationwide.”
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Anna Koper and Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Mark Heinrich)