Poland orders stricter pandemic measures for Easter period

Full Screen
1 / 5

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A cyclist passes in front of an ambulance by an infectious diseases hospital in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday, March 25, 2021. Amid a sharp spike in new infections and hospitalizations that are bringing the health care to its limits, Poland has stepped up pandemic measures for two weeks starting Saturday, including fewer people to be allowed into churches at the holiday time. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW – Poland's government ordered stricter pandemic measures for the two-week period surrounding Easter, describing the new rules Thursday as an attempt to limit human contacts amid a deadly surge in the coronavirus pandemic.

Details of the new restrictions — which include the closure of nursery schools, furniture stores and beauty salons — come as Poland registered a record for daily coronavirus cases for a second consecutive day.

The new restrictions, which also include limits on the number of people in churches, take effect on Saturday and will remain in place until April 9. They come on top of other restrictions already in effect that have gradually been ramped up as infections, hospitalizations and deaths have mounted amid another surge of infections over the past several weeks.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he knew the more severe measures come during a period when families traditionally spend time together for Easter, and it would require a sacrifice from Poles. But he said the steps are needed to save lives, jobs and a health sector approaching the limits of its capabilities.

“We are one step away from crossing the border beyond which we will not be able to properly heal our citizens,” Morawiecki said. “We will do everything to avoid such a scenario.”

The Health Ministry said Thursday it recorded more than 34,000 new daily cases — thousands more than the 30,000 that set a bleak record on Wednesday. There were also 520 new deaths recorded Thursday.

“Poland is in the most difficult moment of the pandemic in 13 months,” Morawiecki said.

He hailed mass vaccination as the key to Poland eventually emerging from the pandemic, noting that medical workers, who have already been vaccinated in higher numbers, are already seeing a sharp drop in illness and death.