Poland’s health ministry has introduced a new colour-coded system of regionally differentiated sanitary restrictions, with tougher measures for places with big recent coronavirus outbreaks.

This will include reintroducing the requirement to wear masks in public places, even outdoors. Further restrictions on weddings, including banning elderly guests, are also believed to be on the way.

The decision comes as Poland suffers record numbers of coronavirus infections. Today’s figure, of 726 new cases, was the highest since the beginning of the pandemic and continues the upward trend of recent weeks. Today’s number of deaths, 18, was the highest since the end of June.

In response, a new traffic-light system of restrictions for districts has been introduced. It is based on “analysis of the dynamics of infection increases over the last 14 days”, including how many new cases have appeared per 10,000 inhabits, health minister Łukasz Szumowski explained on Thursday.

Nine districts have already been classified as “red” zones, where the toughest new measures will be put in place. Ten more have been identified as “yellow”, with less stringent new restrictions implemented. The majority of the country remains “green”, with no changes to the current sanitary regime.

The colour assignments are to be constantly updated depending on how the distribution of cases throughout the country develops.

As of Saturday, in red zones wearing face masks in public, including outside, will again become compulsory, reports TVN24.

Gyms, cinemas, health resorts and some public recreational spaces, which were gradually reopened from May, will again be closed in the red zones. Cultural events and fairs are also suspended, while sporting events will no longer be able to admit an audience.

Capacity in public transport will be capped at half the available number of seats. Indoor and outdoor premises will only be allowed to admit one person per four square metres of space. Churches will also have attendance limited; however, outdoor religious celebrations can admit up to 150 people.

Attendance at wedding and other family gatherings, which is currently capped at 150 guests, will be lowered to 50 in red zones and 100 in yellow zones.

Meanwhile, in yellow zones, sporting and cultural events can still take place, and cinemas will be able to operate at 25% of their usual capacity.

Here too, both indoor and outdoor premises will only be allowed to admit one person per four square metres. Other restrictions, for example on wearing masks in shops and church attendance, will remain unchanged.

Poland introducing new coronavirus measures amid record infection numbers

Further restrictions also appear likely to be introduced for weddings, which have become the site of several large outbreaks in recent weeks.

The health minister has already announced this week that the organisers of weddings will have to register the number of guests in advance. The authorities will then carry out checks to ensure that figure is not exceeded, as well as whether other sanitary restrictions are adhered to.

Today, deputy development minister Olga Semieniuk suggested that the new rules could go even further, including barring the elderly from attending weddings.

“We know that every family would like to have as much fun as possible at weddings, but if we can protect the life and health of grandmothers and grandfathers, we will ban participation in such events for seniors,” said Semieniuk, quoted by Rzeczpospolita.

According to Semieniuk, the new restrictions for weddings could be announced later this week and come into force “immediately”.

However, the health ministry’s spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz, also speaking today, admitted that “excluding a certain group of people from weddings would be legally difficult”.

There are currently 12,099 active cases of the coronavirus in Poland. Altogether there have been 49,515 cases, with 1,774 associated deaths.

Red districts include:

  • ostrzeszowski,
  • nowosądecki,
  • Nowy Sącz,
  • wieluński,
  • pszczyński,
  • Rudza Śląska,
  • rybnicki,
  • Rybnik,
  • wodzisławski.

Yellow districts include:

  • wieruszowski,
  • Jastrzębie Zdrój,
  • jarosławski,
  • Żory,
  • kępiński,
  • przemyski,
  • cieszyński,
  • pińczowski,
  • oświęcimski,
  • Przemyśl.

Main image credit: Ministerstwo Zdrowia/Twitter

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