Post-summer COVID news: Poland introduces ‘zero tolerance’ mask wearing policy

**This article is continuously updated with the latest developments.

The obligation to wear masks in public spaces will now be enforced in a more restrictive way, announced Health Minister Adam Niedzielski.

This means that everyone not wearing a mask in closed spaces or in any location where social distancing remains impossible, will now be facing harsher penalties. Exempt from the new provision are people who can prove they are unable to have their nose and mouth covered for a long time.

“Compliance to the restrictions is not only our duty towards each other, it is also our responsibility for other people”, said Niedzielski, adding that “we are introducing a zero tolerance policy for the non-compliance of the rules concerning DDM: disinfection, distance and masks.”

The police have also committed themselves to the greater fastidiousness in enforcing laws concerning mask wearing and social distancing, and have so far only punished one in 20 , only about one in 20 of the recorded cases of violation are actually punished by police officers.

Meanwhile, Poland has seen its highest coronavirus-related daily death tally since the beginning of the pandemic on 6 October as it recorded 58 deaths within the past 24 hours, according to data provided by the health ministry.

More counties in so-called ‘red zones’

Due to the epidemiological situation, as of 3 October,17 of Poland’s counties were labelled as so-called “red zones”, while 34 were branded yellow.

In red zones, mask wearing has been made mandatory in public, including in outdoor areas. Theme and amusement parks have been closed and cultural events, conferences and fairs have been suspended, while sporting events cannot admit spectators.

And while the capacity in cinemas has been capped to 25% of available seats, only 50 people will be able to attend weddings and funerals.

New regulation on air traffic bans

On 15 September, a new regulation on air traffic bans due to the COVID-19 pandemic came into force, valid from 16 September. While the previous ban had covered 44 countries, the new reduced list includes 30.

The only new country added to the list is France, while Mexico, India, Albania and Romania were removed from it.

Poland changes quarantine rules

Following ten days quarantining after contact with an infected person, suspected cases will be dismissed by their primary care physician, who will decide during a distance consultation whether the patient has symptoms of COVID-19, according to new rules the Polish Ministry of Health is mulling.

Previously, the decision to stop quarantining was taken only after two negative test results on the 12th and 14th day after contact with the patient.

Rzeczpospolita reports that medical personnel is unsure about such a measure. 

[Edited by Daniel Eck, Natasha Foote]

Read more on the measures taken before summer break here.

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