1.2 Physical distancing
On April 16, the government presented its staged action plan for lifting the current restrictions related to COVID-19, calling it the New Normality action plan.
Social distancing and other social protection rules will continue and they apply to all residents. These are: keeping a 2-meter distance in public space from others; mandatory covering of the nose and mouth in public places (excluding, from 4 May, persons practicing sports in indicated sports facilities, and their trainers and referees, as well as any other persons present in these facilities); continuing with work at home arrangements and distance-learning/education wherever possible; strict compliance with sanitary rules in places where people are gathered (disinfection and maintaining a proper distance); quarantine and isolation for infected or potentially infected persons.
However, some security rules were eased from Monday, April 20, under Stage 1 of the New Normality action plan:
• It is possible to go outside for recreational purposes. The restriction on entry to forests and parks are lifted, and running and cycling is allowed - if one’s mental condition depends on it. People are allowed to stay outside only if they maintain social distance and cover their mouth and nose (see Section 1.2).
• Adolescents over 13 years of age can go outside without adult supervision. Children's playgrounds still closed.
• Changes made to arrangements for religious worship. The number of people allowed to attend mass or other religious rites is determined by the size of the house of worship: at least 15 m2 of space per person is required.
• Restrictions on staying in large-format stores have been relaxed (4 persons per till are allowed inside the store compared to 3 persons per till previously).
Stage 2 of the action plan, which started on 4 May, includes reopening of shopping centres, construction stores, hotels, nurseries and kindergardens:
• Shopping facilities with a sales area of over 2,000 m2 may reopen with limitations (15 sm2 of retail space per person, excluding corridors; fitness clubs, food courts and other recreational space such as playgrounds are not allowed to operate in shopping centres); dedicated shopping slot for people aged 65+ (from 10am until 12pm) is abolished;
• Large area DIY stores are allowed to trade on weekends;
• Hotel and other accommodation services may be provided if specific security rules are observed. The operation of hotel restaurants and recreational spaces remains limited; hotel gyms, meeting rooms and swimming pools remain closed; hotel restaurants cannot serve meals on site but can deliver them to the guests’ rooms.
• The ban on libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions is lifted. Reopening will be gradual and decided in consultation with the county sanitary and epidemiological station.
• Sick people and people suffering from pain will be able to access therapeutic rehabilitation and independent public health care facilities. However, massage parlours remain closed.
• Certain facilities with open sports infrastructure may reopen (with restrictions):
o Up to 6 people: sports stadiums (football, athletics and other); school and multifunctional playgrounds (including “Orliki”); external infrastructure for motor sports and aviation; golf courses; riding centres and open facilities such as: shooting ranges, archery tracks, go-kart tracks, roller-skating and roller-skating tracks.
o Up to 4 people: open and semi-open tennis courts.
o Up to 2 people: outdoor infrastructure for water sports (kayaking, boating etc.).
o Professional leagues (football and speedway) may gradually resume activities; national team members are allowed to train in the Central Sports Centre for the Olympic or Paralympic Games.
• Domestic flights have been resumed from 1 June, while no international passenger flights will be allowed into Poland until at least 12 June.
• Nurseries and kindergartens providing care for children up to age 3 can reopen. Decisions on the date of reopening as well as on the scope of operations will be taken in consultation with the county sanitary services. Schools remain closed until 24 May.
Stage 3 of the New Normality action plan has began on the 18th May: hairdressers and beauticians have been opened, as well as stores in shopping malls with significant social safety restrictions and restaurants (and sanitary restrictions) in place. In addition, the ban on sporting events of up to 50 people (in open spaces, without the participation of the public) have been lifted. The resumption of primary school classes 1-3 (with the maximum number of children in the room set by the government) began on 24 May.
The government has announced that the final high school exam (‘matura’) will take place in June, with the oral part of this exam abolished this year, and the 8th grade exams will also take place in June.
The 4th and last stage (which has not begun yet) includes changes such as the opening of massage salons and solariums, permitting gyms and fitness clubs to operate, as well as opening of theatres and cinemas (with sanitary restrictions).
The start dates of the New Normality action plan’s stages are determined based on weekly evaluations of the following data:
• Changes in the number of cases (including the number of people in a severe condition);
• effectiveness of health care in dealing with COVID-19, which can be assessed by monitoring changes in morbidity, mortality and recovery (especially in single-infection hospitals);
• implementation of sanitary guidelines by the responsible entities.
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus. Access online: 17.04.2020.
http://dziennikustaw.gov.pl/D2020000067301.pdf [access online 17.04.2020]
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/nowa-normalnosc-etapy [access online 17.04.2020]
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/nowe-terminy-egzaminow-maturalnego-i-osmoklasisty-przedluzamy-zamkniecie-przedszkoli-i-zlobkow-oraz-szkol-i-uczelni [access online 30.04.2020]
https://dziennikbaltycki.pl/probny-egzamin-osmoklasisty-2020-okazal-sie-niewypalem-decyzja-w-sprawie-egzaminow-wlasciwych-nadal-niepodjeta/ar/c5-14893555 [access online 01.05.2020]
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/dodatkowy-zasilek-opiekunczy-wydluzony [access online 30.04.2020]
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/od-6-maja-mozliwe-otwarcie-zlobkow-i-przedszkoli-co-z-dodatkowym-zasilkiem-opiekunczym [access online 30.04.2020]
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/w-tym-roku-mamy-wiecej-czasu-na-zlozenie-pit--sprawdz-jak-to-zrobic [access online 30.04.2020]
https://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/wiadomosci/7,173952,25902914,z-dziecmi-tego-pana-sie-nie-bawcie-bo-maja-wirusa-zaraza.html [access online 30.04.2020]
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/kolejny-etap [access online 30.04.2020]
http://dziennikustaw.gov.pl/D2020000073401.pdf [access online 30.04.2020]
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/premier-znosimy-kolejne-ograniczenia-otwieramy-boiska-wraca-ekstraklasa [access online 01.05.2020]
From 30 May, the obligation to cover the nose and mouth in open public spaces has been lifted, except for buses and trams, shops, cinemas and theatres, massage and tattoo parlours, churches and public administration offices, but the obligation to maintain distance of 2 meters remains in place. [The obligation to maintain a 2-meter social distance does not apply to parents with children who need care (up to 13 years of age), people living together, disabled people, and people who cover their mouths and nose]. The limit on the number of people allowed in shops and restaurants, as well as in churches, has been lifted and it is now possible to organize meetings and open-air concerts in open spaces, with up to 150 participants. Participants must, however, cover their mouths and nose or maintain a 2-meter social distance. The State Sanitary Inspection will make recommendations on where, given the epidemiological situation, gatherings or outdoor concerts should not take place. The final decision, however, belongs to the competent local government unit. Playgrounds and open-air gyms have also been opened from 30 may.
From 6 June, it has been possible to organize weddings with up to 150 people attending (without the obligation to wear face masks) and certain types of facilities may resume activity under certain sanitary conditions. These facilities are: cinemas, theatres, operas, ballet, swimming pools, gyms, fitness clubs, play rooms and amusement parks. It is now also possible to organize fairs, exhibitions and congresses.
From 19 June, public will be allowed at football stadiums as long as no more than 25% of seats are occupied. Appropriate sanitary rules will have to be observed.
From 1 June, the restriction on the maximum number of occupied seats in public transport has been relaxed: all seats may now be occupied (if no passengers are standing; if there are standing passengers then half of all available seats may be occupied).
From July 25, restrictions on the maximum number of occupied seats has been further relaxed allowing for 50% of public seats to be occupied in stadiums, swimming pools, sports fields and all places intended for the public in sports facilities, including sports halls. The maximum limit of participants in fairs, exhibitions, congresses or conferences is determined in function of the surface area: there can be one person per 2.5 m2 (down from 4 m2 per person). The limit of 150 people participating in such events has also been lifted. Restrictions on the number of people in indoor and outdoor swimming pools have been lifted but remain in place for water parks, where the occupancy limit is up to 75%.
From July 25, the obligation to alternate seats in cinemas and at artistic and entertainment events that take place indoors has been abolished. Therefore, this applies to music clubs, entertainment and sports halls, as well as amphitheaters and concert shells.
The obligation to maintain physical distancing remains but was reduced from 2 m to 1.5 m.
From August 8, a new division into red and yellow zones was introduced. Places with more than 12 cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 residents are designated as red zones. Areas where there are between 6 and 12 cases per 10 thousand residents are designated as yellow zone. The following restrictions apply in the red and yellow zones:
⦁ obligation to wear masks (or protective helmets) in public spaces,
⦁ sports events are allowed without the participation of the public,
⦁ 1 person per 4 sq m may stay in eateries,
⦁ ban on the organization of fairs and congresses and cultural events,
⦁ no funfairs, amusement and recreation parks are allowed,
⦁ no gym, hairdressing, beauty and tattoo salons,
⦁ no opening of cinemas, night clubs, discos,
⦁ prohibition of organizing sanatoriums and rehabilitation stays,
⦁ 1 person per 4 sq m can stay in churches and up to 150 people outside,
⦁ a maximum of 50 people at weddings and other family celebrations and special events (regardless of the type),
⦁ in means of public transport it may be occupied up to 50% seating positions (boarding is prohibited for additional passengers if more than half of the seats are occupied).
⦁ a maximum of 1 person per 4 sq m may stay in eateries, as well as during congresses and fairs,
⦁ during sports events and in cinemas it may be a maximum of 25% seats in the audience,
⦁ possibility of participation of up to 100 people in cultural events (or up to 25% of the audience),
⦁ maximum 1 person per 10 sq m can stay in amusement parks, amusement and recreation parks,
⦁ 1 person per 4 sq m is allowed in the gyms,
⦁ a maximum of 100 people at weddings and other family celebrations and special events (regardless of type).
From August 12, flights from 44 countries from around the world have been banned. The list is based on an analysis of the epidemiological status in a given country. It takes into account, among others, the 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
Schools will be reopened from 1st September. Directors of schools will need to decide, together with the local sanitary inspector, how to provide classes safely, including via so called hybrid teaching and online teaching. Wearing face masks will not be compulsory in the common areas at school.
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/4-etap-odmrazania [access online 31.05.2020]
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/premier-od-19-czerwca-czesciowo-otwieramy-stadiony-pilkarskie [access online 31.05.2020]
Restrictions on mass gatherings and how to conduct oneself in public places (e.g. maximum number of people allowed to gather, minimum distance between people (now 2 metres) were first issued on 24 February. Subsequent regulations placed a ban on public gatherings of over 50 people (13 March), and this limit was reduced further to no more than 2 people on 25 March (except for families). In churches, a maximum of 5 people were allowed to gather, excluding priests. On March 9 the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate issued recommendations that seniors should limit going out to public places.
Following a recommendation by the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate, hospitals and long-term care institutions introduced bans on visiting patients/residents (from 11 March). Since 14 March treatment in spas and sanatoriums have been suspended (although patients who were undergoing sanatorium treatment at the time could complete it).
For the prison population, inmates and prison employees have had their temperature monitored since 12 March. Visits to prisoners were initially allowed (but visitors had to have their temperature taken) but since 19 March visits have been banned in all 172 of Poland’s penitentiary units (see also Section ‘Planning services’).
Primary and secondary school classes were suspended on March 12, followed by the complete closure of all educational and higher education institutions (universities and colleges) on March 16. In parallel, remote working for employees was recommended wherever possible and people were urged to stay at home as much as possible.
Deadlines for submitting applications for medical specialization places, commencement of new specialization training and dates of state medical examinations have been postponed. Initially, it was foreseen that doctors who have successfully passed the written part of the state specialization examination in the spring 2020 session will receive their specialization title on the basis of this examination without having to pass the oral part if this part cannot be carried out by October 30, 2020. This exam has now been cancelled and new exam dates are yet to be announced.
The closure of non-essential businesses began on March 13, with restaurants, cafes, pubs and casinos ordered to close (food deliveries and take-away sales are still allowed). Cultural and entertainment centres, cinemas and sports facilities have also been closed since this date.
Since 1 April stricter measures have been introduced:
• People are prohibited from going out except for necessary tasks such as going to work (where working from home is not possible), medical visits (but compulsory preventive vaccinations have been postponed until April 18; see Section ‘Maintaining essential services’), shopping for groceries and medicines, walking pets. In practice, there is a ban on practicing sports and walking for leisure in public places.
• Children and minors under 18 cannot go out unless accompanied by an adult.
• When outdoors, people must keep a distance of 2 metres from one another (except for parents with children) while in work premises, this distance is 1.5 metres.
• Non-essential businesses remain closed. Inside the shops that are allowed to operate, the number of customers must be limited to allow the implementation of social distancing rules: a maximum of 3 customers per cash register can be allowed in the shop at any given time. The use of gloves by customers inside shops is also mandatory. Shop employees are required to disinfect the shops.
• The morning hours of 10.00 – 12.00 (excluding pharmacies and petrol stations) are reserved for people aged 65+.
• Hairdressers, beauty salons, tattoo and piercing salons are closed.
• Parks, boulevards, and most forests are closed.
• The maximum number of people using public transport is limited (public and private) to half the number of total seats (i.e. only every other seat can be taken).
Since 16 April, everyone must cover their mouth and nose in public places. The choice of the form of this cover is optional (it can be a mask (disposable or other), but also a scarf). This measure will remain in place until further notice. It applies to all who are:
• in public transport vehicles (metro, buses, trams, etc.);
• in cars, when strangers or those who do not live together (work colleagues, neighbours, etc.) ride together; it applies on roads and squares (also applies to people riding a bicycle or a scooter);
• in workplaces (applies to people who have contact with outsiders - customers, clients, citizens, etc.).
Small children, the sick / disabled and farmers (when working on a farm) are not obliged to cover their mouth and nose. Clergy performing religious rites and soldiers in the armed and allied forces, as well as officers of the Military Counterintelligence Service and the Military Intelligence Service, performing official tasks are exempted.
http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20200000374/O/D20200374.pdf. Access 31.03.2020.
https://polskatimes.pl/koronawirus-w-polsce-wiezienia-i-areszty-wprowadzily-specjalne-procedury-wiezniowie-i-funkcjonariusze-poddani-kwarantannie/ar/c1-14856599. Access: 31.03.2020.
https://gp24.pl/wiezienia-i-areszty-zamkniete-zamiast-widzen-telewizja-i-telefon/ar/c1-14869211. Access: 31.03.2020.
http://dziennikustaw.gov.pl/D2020000043301.pdf. Access: 31.03.2020.
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/zaslon-usta-i-nos [access online 17.04.2020]
The ordinance of the Council of Ministers on establishing specific restrictions, orders and bans in connection with the outbreak of the epidemic does not introduce a ban on the operation of fountains. This applies to fountains of various types and groups of fountains in the form of fountain parks, dry plaza water installations and graduation towers. To prevent infections, the following measures are of fundamental importance:
• maintaining social distance - staying at a distance of at least 2 m from other visitors (does not apply to persons living together); avoiding assemblies and meetings in a larger group;
• covering the mouth and nose - using a mask or handkerchief, including when using a graduation tower; not allowing the mask to get wet;
• frequent washing and disinfecting hands.
Sources: https://gis.gov.pl/aktualnosci/komunikat-glownego-inspektora-sanitarnego-dotyczacy-funkcjonowania-fontann-instalacji-wodnych-typu-dry-plaza-i-podobnych-oraz-tezni-ulicznych-w-trakcie-epidemii-sars-cov-2-w-polsce/ [access online 13.07.2020]