Policy responses for Poland - HSRM


Policy responses for Poland

1.2 Physical distancing



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/ [accessed online 13.07.2020]
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):
- 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.
- Up to 4 people: open and semi-open tennis courts.
- Up to 2 people: outdoor infrastructure for water sports (kayaking, boating etc.).
- 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]

From October 10, the entire country was designated as the yellow zone, with some counties (poviats) designated as the red zone.

The following rules apply in the whole country:
• There is an obligation to cover the nose and mouth in all public spaces (shops, buses, but also on the street)
• Restaurants and other eateries may only be open from 6:00am to 10:00pm and must ensure at least 4 m2 per person. Dancing is not permitted in restaurants (or other closed spaces).
• Private events (such as christenings or weddings) are permitted but only 50 guests are allowed in the red zone counties and up to 75 in the other counties.
• All cultural events are banned in the red zone counties; however, movie screenings at cinemas are allowed but only 25% of the capacity may be filled.
• Indoor events are allowed in the yellow zone counties, but venues may only be filled up to 25% of their capacity. A maximum of 100 people can participate in outdoor cultural events in the yellow zone counties, however, the number of participants (viewers, listeners, visitors) must not exceed 1 person per 5 m2.
Source: https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/rozszerzamy-zasady-bezpieczenstwa

From October 15, dedicated opening hours have been introduced for older people aged 60+ in shops, drugstores and pharmacies: Monday to Friday, from 10:00 to 12:00.

Source: https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/badzmy-solidarni-odpowiedzialni-i-troszczmy-sie-o-naszych-seniorow
From October 17, the following rules apply:

YELLOW ZONE (the whole country, except counties from the red zone)
• Restaurants and other eateries can be open from 6am until 9pm. Only every other table may be occupied. After 9pm only take-away service is permitted.
• The number of people in the public transport is limited to 50% of seats or 30% of all spots (seated or standing).
• From October 19, the number of people at weddings and other celebrations is limited to a maximum of 20 people; dancing is not permitted.
• The number of people attending religious ceremonies is limited to a maximum of 1 person per 4m2.
• The number of people participating in public gatherings is limited to a maximum of 25 people.
• Blended teaching (remotely and in person) should be carried out in universities and secondary schools.
• Audience participation is prohibited at sporting events.
• The number of people participating in cultural events is limited to 25% of seats.
• Swimming pools, aquaparks and gyms are closed.

• The maximum number of people allowed in retail outlets depends on the size of the store: for stores with an area of up to 100 m2 - 5 people for the cash register are allowed, and for stores over 100 m2 – the limit is 1 person per 15 m2.
• From October 19, special events (e.g. weddings) are banned.
• The number of people participating in religious ceremonies is limited to 1 person per 7 m2.
• Public gatherings are limited to 10 people.
• In universities and secondary schools, teaching must be conducted remotely (excluding practical classes).

Source: https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/nowe-zasady-profilaktyki-przeciw-covid-19

From October 24, all of Poland was designated as the red zone. Changes in restrictions include:
• Blended teaching will also be carried out in grades 4-8 of primary schools.
• Persons under the age of 16 need to be under the care of a parent or guardian when outside.
• Food catering establishments may only provide take-out food service.
• Operation of sanatoriums has been suspended.
• The number of people allowed to participate in gatherings in public places has been limited to 5 people from outside the same household, except for business meetings; for religious ceremonies the limit is 1 person per 7 m2.

People over 70 years old were recommended to limit their movements, with the exception of professional activities, activities of everyday life and participation in the holy mass or religious rites.



The cemeteries were closed on October 31, and November 1 and 2 (All Saints' Day).


From November 9 to November 29, primary school grades 1-3 were required to switch to distance learning. Cultural institutions (theatres, cinemas, museums, art galleries, community centres, music centres) were closed. The maximum number of people allowed in shops has been reduced to 1 person per 10 m2 in shops up to 100 m2. The number of people allowed in churches was reduced to 1 person per 15 m2. Operation of shopping malls was limited to, with only service points, shops with food, cosmetics, toiletries and cleaning products, medical and pharmaceutical products, renovation and construction products, articles for animals, and press outlets remaining open. Hotels are only open to business travellers.


From November 28 to December 27, the so-called RESPONSIBILITY STAGE was introduced across the country. This means the following measures are in place:
• The number of people in shops and shopping malls is limited to a maximum of 1 person per 15m2.
• Restrictions on movement of children and adolescents under 16 years of age: from Monday to Friday (i.e. on school days), from 8:00am to 4:00pm, children and adolescents must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
• Public meetings are limited to 5 people.
• For events organized at home, the limit is 5 people, but it does not apply to people who live together.
• All teaching (in all grades) in primary and secondary schools must be done remotely.
• Hotel operations are suspended, except for business guests, athletes and health workers.
• Restaurants can only provide "take-away" and "delivery" services.


The RESPONSIBILITY STAGE was extended until January 17, and additional restrictions were introduced:
• Further limitations to the functioning of shopping have been introduced; grocery stores, shops with books and newspapers, drugstores, pharmacies, hairdressing and beauty salons, as well as free-standing large-format furniture stores remain open.
• Hotels can only be used by the uniformed services, health workers, and patients of specialist hospitals.
• Ski slopes are closed.
• Sports infrastructure are open for professional sports only.
• People arriving to Poland by means of organized transport must quarantine for 10 days.
• New Year’s Eve curfew: from December 31, 2020 to January 1, 2021, from 19:00 to 6:00, people’s movement is prohibited throughout the country.




The RESPONSIBILiTY STAGE has been extended until January 31, 2021.

From January 18, students in grades 1-3 returned to face-to-face schooling under strict sanitary regime (teachers are being tested).



On February 1, shopping malls, museums and art galleries were opened. The senior hours have been lifted. Other safety rules remained in place.


New (milder) rules have been put in place for the period from February 12 until February 26: 
• Hotel services are available to everyone as long as the sanitary regime is observed (50% of available rooms are occupied, meals are only served in rooms, at guests' request, hotel restaurants must remain closed).
• Cinemas, theatres, operas and philharmonics have reopened under the sanitary regime (a maximum of 50% of the seats may be occupied during cultural events, use of masks is obligatory, consumption of foods and beverages is prohibited).
• Pools are open, but water parks remain closed.
• Ski slopes are open.
• Amateur outdoor sports can be resumed (outdoor pitches, tennis courts, etc.)
• Gyms remain closed.
• Restaurants - as before – can only provide take-out and delivery services.