Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Poland announces four-stage plan to gradually ease coronavirus-related restrictions starting April 20. No completion timetable released.

This alert affects Poland

This alert began 19 Apr 2020 23:42 GMT and is scheduled to expire 10 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Poland announced that, on April 20, the government will begin implementing a four-stage plan to ease restrictions that have been put in place as part of the nation's effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The first stage of the plan will allow greater freedom of movement for recreational purposes, including access to forests and parks. It will also permit stores with less than 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) of floor space to reopen with specific restrictions on the number of patrons and employees that may be inside an establishment at a given time. Children aged 13 years and older will be allowed outside their homes without adult supervision. Social distancing guidelines and the use of protective masks will remain mandatory for all persons. There is no change to the existing requirement that attendance at religious services be limited to one person per 15 square meters (161 square feet).

During stages two through four, authorities will allow increasingly larger establishments - such as hotels, gyms, restaurants, shopping malls, etc. - to resume operation, as well as phase in permission for gradually larger gatherings to take place. Childcare and school classes will also begin operating again, albeit under limits on the number of children per classroom. The government has set no specific timetable for these latter three stages, planning, rather, to launch each depending on the future evolution of disease activity.

Coronavirus-related restrictions that are currently slated to remain in effect indefinitely in Poland, but as yet are not specifically addressed by the government's new plan, include:

  • Ban on most foreigners entering Poland
  • Mandatory 14-day quarantine for arrivals in Poland
  • Ban on international rail traffic
  • Ban on passenger air traffic
  • Public transport operating but limited to half capacity

The restrictions do not apply to freight transport. Authorities will probably begin lifting travel restrictions gradually, depending on the level of success experienced with the new four-stage plan.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Polish government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV2-virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as these may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Polish Government:

World Health Organization (WHO):