Coronavirus in Poland – how does it change our everyday life in legal aspects?
The spread of coronavirus in Poland has forced the Polish government to introduce restrictions and rules of conduct during the epidemic period. These measures are contained in several legal acts, however, the main are:
- Act of March 2, 2020, on special solutions related to the prevention, counteraction and combating of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and the crisis situating them (“Special Act”)
- Act of 5 December 2008 on the prevention and combating of infections and infectious diseases of people (“General Act”)
- Regulation of the Minister of Health of March 13, 2020, regarding the announcement of an epidemic emergency in the territory of the Republic of Poland (“Regulation”)
- Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 13 March 2020 on air traffic ban (“Air Traffic Regulation”).
Restrictions arising from the Special Act
The Special Act has been adopted on 2nd March 2020 and entered into force on 8th March. Most of the provisions of the act are binding only for 180 days, starting from the date of its undertaking.
The main solutions introduced on the basis of the Special Act are:
Commands for entrepreneurs issued by public authorities
The Prime Minister, at the request of local authorities, may issue commands to entrepreneurs which aim at limiting the spread of coronavirus or counteracting it. These commands are issued in the form of an administrative decision, they are subject to immediate execution upon their delivery or announcement and do not require justification.
Commands issued by Chief Sanitary Inspector
The Chief Sanitary Inspector may issue a distribution order
– medicines, medical devices or special food products that can be used to fight coronavirus – in relation to pharmaceutical wholesalers,
– personal protective equipment – in relation to their manufacturers, distributors or importers,
Decisions of the Sanitary Inspectorate are immediately enforceable, do not require justification, and in urgent cases can be issued orally, and then immediately confirmed in writing.
An appeal against this type of decision may be filed within 2 working days from delivery (or written confirmation in case of an oral decision), the appeal should be submitted to the higher instance within 1 working day, and the appeal should be dealt with within 5 working days.
Remote work of employees
The employer may instruct the employee to perform remote work for a definite period of time, i.e. work outside the place of where work us usually performed (for example from home). The employer’s order is binding on the employee. The legislator did not provide this entitlement the other way round, which means that an employee cannot submit a binding application to the employer for remote work. What’s important that employee’s remuneration does not change as a result of remote work.
Additional child benefit
One of the results of the spread of the coronavirus in Poland was One of the effects of the spread of coronavirus in Poland was the closure of schools, nurseries and kindergartens. Therefore, the employee who is looking after the child under 8 years old, is entitled to additional child care allowance. Such allowance:
– is due for a period no longer than 14 days,
– is not included in the 60 days of child care allowance that the employee is entitled to in each calendar year.
Maximum prices for certain products
The Special Act empowered the Minister of Health to set maximum prices for medicines, medical devices or special food products that can be used to fight coronavirus. Examples of such products are protective masks or an antibacterial gel. The Minister of Health determines the maximum prices by public announcement.
Restrictions arising from the General Act and the Regulation
The General Act authorizes the government to introduce epidemic status at the territory of whole or part of the country, by the regulation of Minister of Health. This has been done on 14th March – the epidemic status at the territory of Poland (whole country) is effective for an indefinite period.
What’s important that the restrictions arising from the General Act and the Regulations exists independently from restrictions imposed by the Special Act.
Obligation to have quarantine for anyone entering Poland
Any person who enters Poland from 15 March is obliged to have (after crossing the state border) a mandatory quarantine lasting 14 days from the day following the crossing of the border.
Also, each person must provide the Border Guard officer with information about:
– address of the place where he will spend the time of quarantine
– contact phone number
Suspension of international rail traffic
Starting from 15 March 2020 until revoked, the international rail traffic has been suspended.
Restriction on foreign trade in certain products
During the time of epidemic status, the sale or export of respirators and cardio monitors outside Poland is prohibited.
Also, during that time, the sale or export of some products are restricted – before sale or export the seller must notify proper authorities about such intent. The products in question are safety goggles, TYVEK suits, masks type FFP2 / FFP3, surgical masks, shoe protectors, latex gloves, nitrile gloves, hand, surface and room disinfectants.
Restrictions on the functioning of public spaces
The government has set a temporary restriction on some activities. As a result, places such as libraries, museums, clubs and restaurants are closed (except for restaurants that prepare take-out food). The functioning of shopping malls is also limited in time.
Prohibition of organizing public gatherings
It is forbidden to organize public gatherings where the number of participants in the assembly is at least 50 people (including the organizer and persons acting on his behalf).
Air traffic ban
The Air Traffic Regulation entered into force on 15th March 2020 and is valid for 14 days. During that time, the landing civilian aircraft at airports in Poland is prohibited, except for:
– return flights of Polish citizens
– flights carried out at the request of foreign countries in order to return its citizens to their countries.
What has NOT changed or changed in favour of entrepreneurs?
Despite the serious situation, many things may be dealt without any restrictions. Many offices have suspended the reception of clients, however, they allow to settle matters online (by e-mail or via the ePUAP system).
There are also no changes in the functioning of eKRS system, which means that registering a company or submitting financial statements of the company, may be done without any limitations.
Banks have introduced online applications for setting corporate bank accounts which makes it easier for newly established companies to set up a bank account. The positive aspect of the situation for entrepreneurs is that governmental agencies and tax authorities will encourage new businesses in order to get through a financial crisis as soon as possible. There is a visible trend towards settling all business-related issues remotely which makes it attractive for foreign investors to set up a business in Poland.