Polish children in the first three years of primary school will return to normal lessons from Jan. 18, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said on Monday, but other COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place until the end of the month.
In December Poland announced that it was entering a “national quarantine,” with hotels, ski slopes and many shops closing in a bid to prevent a damaging third wave from hitting the country as it rolls out its vaccination programme. While daily COVID-19 case numbers have stabilised in Poland after surging in the autumn, the discovery of new variants and rising case numbers in other European countries mean authorities are concerned about a possible third wave, Niedzielski said.
“From Jan. 18 we decided to maintain all additional restrictions apart from starting on-site teaching in grades 1-3 in primary school,” the minister told a news conference. “The damages from the 1-3 grade students not being in their peer group does not balance the risk of a pandemic,” Niedzielski also said.
Poland, a country of 38 million, has vaccinated around 200,000 people to date. While the first stage of vaccination was supposed to be reserved for medical personnel, it subsequently emerged that a number of celebrities and a former prime minister had managed to jump the queue, causing a wave of criticism.
Leszek Miller, 75, who served as prime minister in 2001-2004, said he was able to get vaccinated at a hospital managed by the Medical University of Warsaw, which found itself at the centre of the scandal, by virtue of being a patient there. Niedzielski told the conference that he expects the rector of the Medical University to resign.