Poland Poised to Reopen Economy in May With Pandemic Abating

Poland announced an extensive easing of restrictions to help its virus-weary economy after the country turned the corner on the latest surge in the coronavirus pandemic.

Poland, the second-worst place to live during the pandemic after Brazil in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking, will next month open hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. All students will return to schools from May 29, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday.

“We want our economy to get back to normalcy as soon as possible,” Morawiecki told a news conference with Health Minister Adam Niedzielski. “The most recent data suggest that the third wave has abated and we have reasons for cautious optimism.”

The government has been coming under increasing pressure to ease pandemic restrictions even as the current curbs are relatively mild compared to some other EU members, like France or neighboring Germany. Poland has the world’s seventh highest death toll from Covid over the past seven days, at 87 people per million residents, which constitutes a 10% improvement over the previous week.

Slow Opening

Still, the economy has also done relatively well -- Poland has the lowest unemployment among 27 member states and industrial output jumped the most in 16 years in March. Morawiecki said that the government has spent more than 200 billion zloty ($53 billion) to support businesses, or about 9% of gross domestic product.

The reopening will happen gradually. Shopping malls and furniture stores will open their doors under limited restrictions from May 4. Restaurants will first serve customers outdoors on May 15 and indoors at half capacity two weeks later, when gyms and cinemas are also supposed to open.

Poland will also drop a requirement of wearing face masks outdoors from mid-May, Niedzielski said. The latest announcement came as Poland reported 8,895 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, down from 13,926 a week earlier. The death toll continues to climb with number of fatalities up by 636 over the last 24 hours.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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