COVID-19: Poland extends lockdown restrictions until April 18

"The epidemic restrictions currently in force will be extended until April 18," Poland’s Health minister Adam Niedzielski announced at a press conference on Wednesday. He pointed out that further decisions will be made next week, when it will be possible to estimate whether the third wave of the pandemic in Poland is actually slowing down.

Mr Niedzielski emphasised that the epidemic situation should be closely monitored especially after the Easter holiday period.

"For these reasons, we have decided that the restrictions that are currently in force will be extended for another period of more than a week... We want this period… [to last] until April 18 and then next week we will make another decision what to do next," said the Head of the Ministry of Health.

The decision was postponed for a week, he stressed, as the government is looking at whether the downward trend in the number of new daily cases will continue.

"But most of all, we want to see what the consequences of the [third] wave of infections will look like with regard to hospital infrastructure," Mr Niedzielski pointed out.

Currently, nationwide restrictions include the closure of furniture and DIY stores, hairdressers and beauty salons, kindergartens and creches (with the exception of childcare for the children of medical staff, social workers and law enforcement, among others).

New limits have also been imposed on shops and places of worship. A limit of one person per 15 square metres (sqm) applies to shops of up to 100 square metres, with the space requirement increasing to one customer per 20 square metres in stores of over 100 square metres. The limit in places of worship is one person per 20 square metres.

Shopping centres remain closed except for grocery stores and pharmacies, as do hotels with the exception of hotels for workers and medical staff. Gyms, fitness clubs, cinemas, museums, theatres and entertainment venues are also closed. Restaurants are only permitted to provide a takeaway service.

The wearing of face masks in public is mandatory nationwide, as is maintaining a 1.5-metre distance from other people.

Mr Niedzielski also said on Wednesday that the so-called British variant of SARS-CoV-2 is now dominant in Poland, accounting for 90 percent of all cases. There are also individual incidences of infection with the South African and Brazilian strains of the virus.