‘Appropriate steps’ taken to protect Poles from coronavirus: President

"The virus has recently reached Poland. We know that the number of infected people will grow in the coming days. I can assure you that the Polish authorities have earlier undertaken appropriate steps in order to be ready for the challenge," said the President Andrzej Duda addressing his nation on the public television TVP on Tuesday evening.

He admitted that the situation was serious, since thousands of people have died worldwide following a coronavirus infection.

“Necessary and firm moves are being taken to most effectively protect the Poles," he said and recalled that sanitary inspections had been introduced on Poland's borders and mass-scale events had been banned.

"Other necessary steps will follow," he added.

The president said that he had been in constant contact with the PM and the health and interior ministers, and praised all the actions taken so far by the state and local government administrations, as well as all services.

Europe united against coronavirus

Today, Europe unites in one goal: to defeat coronavirus that disorganises our societies and does not allow living a normal life on our continent, said the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki who took part in a special videoconference of EU and member states’ leaders dedicated to coronavirus on Tuesday.

Mr Morawiecki announced that EU leaders had exchanged their experiences on the coronavirus and confirmed "a continuing close will to cooperate in the face of danger."

"Only together are we able to achieve victory against the coronavirus. I would like the European solidarity we show during this difficult test to spread into other areas of cooperation within the European Union in the future," he added.

Poland not threatened by recession risk

Meanwhile, Development Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz announced that the country’s economy was slowing down due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. She stated that the ministry predicts that Poland's GDP growth will decrease by half to 1.3 percent.

She pointed out that it is impossible to estimate the full impact of the epidemic on the Polish economy, however, in her opinion, despite all the coronavirus-related problems Poland is not threatened by the risk of a crisis or recession, and “the country’s economy is still developing”.

The Minister also noted that the ministry has already taken actions to minimise losses. Soon, a draft special act called "Coronavirus Economy" will be presented, containing solutions for the economy amid the coronavirus epidemic.

Subsidies for companies severely affected by COVID-19

For companies affected by the spread of coronavirus, Jadwiga Emilewicz, the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy Marlena Maląg, as well as Minister of Infrastructure Andrzej Adamczyk announced a special protective package programme. Under the "shielding package" for entrepreneurs there will be tax reliefs, including facilities for the payment of taxes and social security contributions.

Financial instruments for companies are also to be introduced, including guaranteed support and loan subsidies. The package will also include proposals for companies that have been forced to announce downtime.

In turn, PLN 1 bn (EUR 231.4 mln) will be earmarked to employers who find themselves in a difficult situation related to the spread of the disease from the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund.

"The procedures that have been developed and implemented have worked, so we can introduce solutions that will help employees and employers to get through this difficult time", said Marlena Maląg.

She added that the financing will apply to companies whose turnover drops by at least 15 percent. Employers will be able to seek subsidies if restrictions on working time and efficiency are introduced in their companies.

Ms Maląg added that the government was consulting about the current situation with both employers and, on the social side, with trade unions, including Solidarity.