Anonymous 4m 564 #covid19
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Life in Poland During the COVID–19 Pandemic
With 2020 feeling like some kind of practical joke based on the biblical book of Revelation I don’t envy kids having to study this chapter from their history books a century, or few, from now. It’s fascinating how differently each country, its government and, more importantly, its citizens and residents have reacted to the pandemic. Being Polish I can say, for once, that I am really impressed by how my country handled the crisis.
I remember February 2020 was still very relaxed in Poland and the capital, Warsaw, which is where I am from, was buzzing as usual. On the 29th (yes we are in leap year), I remember specifically, people visiting my mother in law from abroad without giving it too much thought. They wore masks on the plane thanks to me being both paranoid and very persuasive. And, as we now know, very perceptive!
Very soon after this, on the 4th of March, the first case of COVID 19 was diagnosed in Poland. The victim was a 66 year old man who had just returned from Germany on a coach and got admitted to a hospital in Zielona Gora. The first red alert was put in place on 14 March and a full Epidemic was announced on 20 March. Thanks to the very quick and quite drastic reaction of the government Poland had a good head start in fighting the virus.
The Numbers and Security Measures
Compared to the rest of the world, the situation in Poland is going in the right direction. As of right now (first days of June) there have been 24 687 confirmed cases and 1115 deaths.
Just for some background, the current government is not loved by the majority of Polish people (funny, since we are a democratic country, right?) and believed to be old – fashioned in being strict and monitoring people closely. In this case, it turned out to be just what we needed. Not prioritizing political correctness over the country’s safety has paid off! Closing the borders early and eliminating most air traffic helped minimize the spread. It was as early as 25 January that the airports in Poland introduced checks on passengers arriving from abroad, especially China.
Finally, on 15 March, the government introduced full lockdown with exclusion of only essential food shopping and dog walking. Masks were mandatory and the police, including military units, were constantly patrolling the streets to ensure adherence. It was taken more seriously than for example the UK, where lockdown was put in place a week later and never really monitored or enforced by the police.
The atmosphere in Poland was one of bitterness and people (especially the young generations who never experienced the 1981 Marshall Law introduced by the socialist government in light of civil unrest) were feeling oppressed and fed up. Many came up with conspiracy theories and other strange ideas, similar to those all over the world (like the governments trying to scare and control them etc.). I must admit it was strange to see so many military police cars and patrols everywhere.
Currently, Poland has entered the 4th phase of opening the economy by opening gyms, gastronomy etc. All the other services have pretty much been re-opened with new distancing rules in place. I am excited and nervous at the same time to see how life in Poland will returns back to ‘normal’.