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Poland limits gatherings, shutters bars and restaurants amid COVID-19 surge

Poland limits gatherings, shutters bars and restaurants amid COVID-19 surge
© Getty

Poland will limit public gatherings to no more than five people and shutter bars and restaurants as COVID-19 cases spike through the country.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced the new measures on Friday after Poland hit a daily record of more than 13,600 cases, Reuters reported.

"Our actions must be much more decisive," Morawiecki said, adding that the new measures take effect on Saturday.

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Officials said the measures are essential to limiting the spread of new infection, warning that without them, new daily cases could rise to as much as 25,000.

"What worries us a lot is the speed of the increase," Morawiecki said as the country's health care system struggles under the weight of new cases, forcing the government to establish field hospitals.

To protect the vulnerable from COVID-19, the government will launch a hotline providing a shopping service for medication and groceries to the elderly. Volunteer military corps will run the deliveries.

Schools will move to distance learning for most students, but children up to third grade will be permitted to attend physical classes.

Poland's Health Ministry reported 153 fatalities Friday, dropping from a record high of 168 a day earlier, bringing the total toll to 4,172.

It was not clear whether Morawiecki's new mandate would permit a planned protest after Poland's top court instituted an immediate ban on abortions for fetuses with congenital disabilities.

Hundreds of protesters convened on the streets late Thursday against the ban amid an existing mandate barring gatherings of more than 10 people.

Reuters reported that in isolated instances, the protests turned into conflicts between demonstrators and law enforcement.