Niedzielski admitted in a morning interview on RMF FM radio that decisions on lifting restrictions are very difficult. He pointed out that on the one hand, the epidemic situation in Poland is stabilized, but on the other hand, countries in Western Europe are struggling with a large increase in COVID-19 cases. 

 

‘Unfortunately, several countries that made decisions over Christmas that were, I would say, less conservative than ours, are now suffering the very bad consequences. I would like to point to the case of Portugal, where at the moment the Portuguese government is calling on all European countries to help because the health care system is collapsing there,’ said the Minister. 

 

Asked why shopping malls were opened and other sectors of the economy were not, he stressed that the easing of restrictions must be very careful. 

 

‘We are basing this on the results of studies done in the United States that show where the transmission of the virus takes place. This research was published by the journal ‘Nature’. What comes out of these studies is that the least likely to get infected in public facilities is in stores, and two types - restaurants and gyms are high on the list of places where you can get infected,’ said Niedzielski.

 

He added that decisions on restrictions are ultimately made by the Prime Minister after recommendations from the Minister of Health and in collaboration with the Medical Council. He assessed that this decision-making system is very pragmatic. 

 

Asked if there was any prospect of opening schools for classes IV-VIII and high schools, the Minister of Health replied: ‘from my point of view, not earlier than in March’.

 

‘I would like to repeat the screening that was done in grades I-III among teachers and see what the outcome of that screening would be. The last time they were done, it was 2 per cent of teachers who were sick. We will repeat these tests in the second week of February,’ announced Niedzielski. 

 

He pointed out that children from older grades could return to school in March at the earliest, ‘maybe a week earlier’.

 

Since Monday, all stores in shopping malls are allowed to operate under the sanitary regime. Minister of Health Adam Niedzielski conveyed last week that most of the existing restrictions will be extended until February 14, including distance learning in grades IV-VIII of primary schools and secondary schools. 

 

The exception, apart from the reopening of shops in malls and shopping centres, is the opening of cultural institutions - museums and art galleries. Hours for seniors have also been lifted on.