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Polish malls to reopen, but PM warns against Christmas travel

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Shopping centres will reopen in Poland in a week’s time, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Saturday, in a boost to retailers in the run-up to Christmas, but he added that the government was working on rules to limit travel.

The government closed entertainment venues and some shops from Nov. 7 after a surge in COVID-19 cases, but infections have levelled off since then, allowing some loosening of restrictions.

“There is one condition: … the discipline of every shop, mall, furniture store. If not, these stores will be closed,” Morawiecki told a news conference.

“These decisions can save hundreds of thousands of jobs, which is why we are taking them,” he said.

However, Morawiecki urged Poles to spend Christmas only with the closest relatives in their households and not to travel, saying the government was working on restrictions to limit movement.

“Reducing contacts is fundamental for the further development of the pandemic. We are working on legal options to limit movement,” he said.

He said schools would remain closed until Christmas.

Poland’s ruling nationalists, the Law and Justice (PiS) party, have seen their poll numbers plummet in recent weeks amid criticism of their handling of the pandemic.

Liberal opposition sentiment has also coalesced against a top court ruling that amounted to a near-total ban on abortion, while some voters in PiS’s conservative rural heartlands have been angered by a proposal to introduce new animal rights legislation.

On Saturday the country reported a daily tally of 24,213 coronavirus cases and 574 coronavirus-related deaths.

The government has said that if case numbers average 27,000-29,000 over a seven-day period, a “national quarantine” involving stricter lockdown measures will be necessary.

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