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Wrocław Coronavirus Update: March 31st

Today’s coronavirus update includes news on more stringent social distancing measures, attempts to silence doctors, and huge concerns for the economy.

As the coronavirus inevitably exacerbates, the news is coming thick and fast. Here are just some of the local coronavirus stories that have broken in the last 24 hours:

Number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wrocław increases to 138

Today the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wrocław has increased from 127 to 138. Across Poland, the coronavirus case count currently stands at 2132.

31 people have sadly died in Poland as a result of the virus. 

Polish Government introduce tighter restrictions

Today the Polish Government announced significantly tighter social distancing measures that will apply from tomorrow (apart from those that affect shops, which come into force on Thursday).

It is very important to become acquainted with them. According to Onet, the restrictions are as follows:

  • People must keep at least 2 metres apart from others when walking in public. The only exceptions are when a parent is with a child under the age of 13, and when a disabled person requires a carer.
  • Admission to parks, boulevards and squares, as well as “other places of recreation” is not permitted.
  • Nobody under the age of 18 may leave the house without adult supervision.
  • The use of city bikes is prohibited.
  • All cosmetic services, including hairdressers, massage parlours and tattoo parlours, must close. These companies will also be forbidden from carrying out services in the home (irrespective of whether it is their own home or someone else’s).
  • There can be a maximum of three people in a shop per checkout. So if there are 10 checkouts in a supermarket, 30 people will be able to shop there at the same time.
  • In post offices, only two people for every service window will be able to enter at the same time.
  • In bazaars and marketplaces, there is a limit of three people per stall.
  • It is required to wear gloves before entering any store. The shops will have to provide the gloves themselves.
  • All DIY stores must close on weekends.
  • Pharmacies, supermarkets and grocery stores will remain open. However, between 10am and 12pm they will only be open to people over 65.
  • Hotels and hostels and will be closed, with the exception of those intended for quarantine. The ban will enter into force on April 2, by which time all guests must check out. Air BnBs and apartments for short term rent are also subject to the ban.
  • In the workplace, staff should be at least 1.5 metres apart.
  • Those currently in quarantine are being asked to completely isolate themselves, including from their own family. If the person has already been in contact with their family or can’t avoid it, the whole family must also go into quarantine.
  • Private bus companies must comply with the same rules as public transport. That means that passengers may not occupy any more than 50% of a vehicle’s seats.
  • At service points in shops and petrol stations, employees will have to disinfect the counter and the terminal after each client.
  • Rehabilitation treatments in hospitals are canceled until further notice,
  • Traveling by car is possible, but only if it is for a necessary purpose (e.g. going to work, home or a supermarket).
  • Leaving home for leisure or relaxation purposes is only permitted if done alone. Only short walks alone or with a dog are allowed; outdoor fitness/sport activities are strongly advised against.

According to gazeta.pl,  jogging is not strictly prohibited, but the Health Minister stressed today that the only reason to go outside (apart from work, shopping or caring) is to get some fresh air. He also made it clear that people should not “use it [time outside] for jogging and improving our physical form during these [next] two weeks.”

It is also important to point out that those that those caring for family, as well as anyone volunteering to help the vulnerable, can freely go outside to travel between homes and/or the shops.

Extra police patrols will be deployed to ensure people comply with the above measures. Those found guilty of breaking the rules could be fined anything between 5,000 and 30,000zł

The new restrictions were introduced as a result of people failing to take on the government’s social distancing advice.

In the last week or so, large groups have been seen gathering in public spaces like parks. There have also been signs of people flocking to nature reserves and picturesque towns for weekend escapes, both of which can contribute to the spread of coronavirus.

Head of the infectious disease department at Koszarowa blasts Polish Government

Professor Krzysztof Simon, head of the infectious disease department at Koszarowa hospital, slammed Health Minister Józefa Szczurek-Żelazko yesterday for trying to prevent some key figures from talking about the poor state of Poland’s hospitals.

Szczurek-Żelazko had signed a letter asking for the consultants in Poland’s Voivodeships to  “stop giving independent opinions.

In response, Professor Simon told the media that it was his right to speak out and that it cannot be taken away like under the communist or Nazi regimes. Simon then went on to slam the government for neglecting Poland’s national health service:

Our health system has been poor for many years, but there has been a real regression in the last five. Reductions in the number of hospitals and a sharp decline in the number of internal medicine beds for the elderly, who need it most. There’s also a shortage of staff – nurses and doctors leave on mass after graduation.

Most nurses are in the 50-70 age range, and the group of young women who can fight the epidemic is negligible. Nurses who earn 2,000zł per month and see that in Germany they can get 3 thousand euro, will go there regardless of patriotism.

Professor Krzysztof Simon, head of the infectious disease department at Koszarowa hospital

Simon also criticised the Polish Government for a lack of action and preparation ahead of the coronavirus spreading to Europe. He claims that when the first cases were found in Poland, Koszarowa hospital had virtually none of the PPE equipment required to protect medical staff from the virus.

The Professor did nonetheless praise the government’s lockdown measures and public awareness campaigns.

74-year-old Wrocławian recovers from coronavirus

A 74-year-old woman who had been in a very serious condition has now left Koszarowa hospital after recovering from coronavirus. She spent 23 days in hospital and is the second person to recover from the virus in Wrocław. 

Court procedures changing as a result of coronavirus

A report published in Gazeta Wyborcza yesterday details how the courts have been dealing with the threat of coronavirus. A number of trials have been postponed, while the use of gloves and masks is also common. In some cases, video conferencing is being utilised as well. 

Swedish retailer IKEA to donate 1 million euros towards Poland’s coronavirus battle

IKEA have donated a million euros to help Poland deal with the coronavirus pandemic, writes Business Insider. The company also say they have donated “mattresses, blankets and bedding to many Polish hospitals.”

Footfall in supermarkets drops

Following the busy shopping period that was triggered after the schools closed, supermarkets have been experiencing a notable drop in footfall. According to a study published yesterday, in some cases footfall has dropped by as much as 30%

Business Insider Polska: Polish Government’s stimulus package failure will have severe consequences

A report published on Business Insider’s website last night claims that the Polish Government’s ‘crisis shield’ has already failed. As a consequence, there will be a significant wave of redundancies and bankruptcies – with the service sector to be most severely hit.

The article states that many employers want to see more details about the government’s stimulus package before they make any decisions on staff cuts. However, the delay in voting through the so-called ‘crisis shield’, as well as a lack of information about how to apply for support, could result in a wave of redundancies in the coming days. 

Kuba Giedrojć of the Lewiatan Business Confederation is quoted as saying that “companies still lack specific information regarding what support they will be eligible for and when they are to receive it.” 

Piotr Soroczyński, chief economist at the Polish Chamber of Commerce, has expressed his belief that today will see an increased number of bankruptcy petitions and a significant number of closed or suspended business activities. He also thinks that the unemployment rate could soon increase by as much as 6%. 

Comments by Sławomir Dudek, the chief economist of the Employers of Poland, also point to a bleak future. Dudek argues that the stimulus package has come too late, and that the application procedures are so complex that the vast majority of small and medium sized businesses will be unable to make successful applications. 

On top of that, Dudek warns that outsourcing companies could be in danger. He says that contracts with such companies will be easier to resign from compared to traditional employment contracts with 3-month notice periods. As a result, “IT and training companies and all other business support services will suddenly lose their income.”

Today Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki admitted that unemployment would increase, partly blaming it on the fact that Poland’s “exports are directed to the west, where economies have been frozen.”

Gregor Gowans

The founder and editor of Wroclaw Uncut, Gregor has been running the website since its inception in 2012. A Wroclawian for almost 10 years, Gregor writes on a wide variety of topics including, food & drink, nightlife, local news and politics. He is also a regular guest on Radio Ram's Sunday lunch programme.

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