‘I encourage everyone to go back to restaurants, hotels’: PM

Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has appealed to Poles to use the services of Polish restaurants and hotels, as the country continues to lift restrictions.

“The vacation is near, that is why I encourage all to go to the Polish mountains, to lakes, and forests. Thanks to this we will rebuild faster these few months lost because of the coronavirus,” PM Morawiecki said at a press conference in Malczyce, Lower Silesia, on Friday.

“We are also preparing to lift the obligation to wear face masks outdoors,” he said, adding that everyone will have to estimate the risk they would be taking in each place, where “life will be returning to normal.”

The PM also noted that now, only eight percent of entrepreneurs were planning to lay off workers, and in March it was as high as 30 percent.

“The wave of the epidemic is falling, subsequent restrictions will be lifted in the next few weeks, all of this to make this vacation as normal as possible,” PM Morawiecki said.

Since May 4, hotels and other places offering accommodation can open again, however, under new sanitary rules.

The government is also planning to introduce a EUR 220 (PLN 1000) voucher for people working under an employment contract, but earning no more than the average salary, which can be used to pay for services in the country's tourism industry.

The opposition Civic Platform has proposed a EUR 110 (PLN 500) voucher for each person, claiming that this way, a four-person family would receive EUR 440 (PLN 2,000), regardless of what type of employment contract each family member has.

Sanatoriums awaiting guests

Many of Poland’s sanatoriums will have guests back in mid-June. The sanatorium in Busko-Zdrój, southern Poland will reopen on June 15. According to the director of the facility, Wojciech Lubawski, if they were to open earlier, each patient would have to be tested for COVID-19, and there, it would take as many as three days to receive the results back, which would make the whole undertaking “very costly.”

On May 21, mayors of health resort municipalities organised a videoconference about the “tragic financial situation” of these local government units. They had lost most of their budgeted income, as differences in Personal Income Tax revenues between April 2020 and 2019 vary between 36 and 52 percent. Corporate Income Tax contributions dropped by up to 90 percent. According to the mayors of these municipalities, the government’s support is insufficient.

Restaurants already receiving guests

On May 18, restaurants, cafes, and bars were allowed to reopen under new sanitary rules. These include an at least two-metre distance between tables, and using only disposable dishes and cutlery. Hand sanitizer has to be used by each guest entering any such place. Chefs and waiters have to wear face masks and gloves. Guests are able to take off their face masks only after they’ve sat down at a table.