Coronavirus. Effects on foreign companies in Poland
Aktualizacja: 30 mar 2020
Since March 14th, an epidemic state of emergency has been declared throughout Poland in connection with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic until further notice.
Together with the announcement of the threat of the epidemic, the government introduced a number of restrictions affecting business activities in Poland.
Prohibition of entry for foreigners to Poland
Since March 15th, foreigners have been prohibited from entering Poland. This means that until further notice, persons without Polish citizenship are not allowed to enter Poland.
An exception is made only for foreigners who:
have the right to work in Poland (mainly EU citizens who work in Polish companies, members of the Management Board and Supervisory Board of a Polish company, and in case of non-EU citizens - persons who have a work permit in Poland or persons who have the so-called declaration of entrusting a foreigner with work /simplified employment of foreigners in Poland/)
are employed in the diplomatic service (and their families)
are spouses and children of Poles
in specially justified cases, receive an entry permit from the Polish border services.
Foreigners crossing the Polish border must also undergo a 14-day quarantine. If such persons are unable to specify the place where they can be placed in such a quarantine, they will be directed to a place specified by the Polish border services.
The restrictions apply until further notice. This means that it is currently not known until when the restrictions will be maintained.
During the night of March 14th/15th, Poland resumed border controls (for the time being until March 24th). Only 28 border crossings with neighbouring countries are opened.
All passenger air and rail connections with foreign countries are suspended. This means that from Sunday March 15th, 00:00 a.m. no scheduled passenger airplane from another country will land in Poland. No train with passengers will enter Poland either.
Only car traffic will be allowed. This means that people returning from abroad will be allowed to cross the border only by cars and coaches. This applies both to persons returning to Poland on business and private basis.
Important! Every person returning from March 15th onwards is subject to a compulsory 14-day quarantine (at their home or, if they do not have a home in Poland, at a place indicated by the authorities).
Mandatory quarantine for Poles returning from foreign delegations means that such persons are obliged to go directly to the place notified to the border guard as a quarantine station after crossing the border. These persons are obliged to stay in these places for 14 consecutive days (even if they do not have any symptoms of illness). Nor does the quarantine allow these persons to return to their place of work (or to leave the house for shopping, walking, etc.).
Logistics and transport of goods to and from Poland - exceptions apply
For the moment, foreigners who drive trucks can enter Poland without restrictions.
The introduced border controls only concern persons and not goods. This means that in logistics only the drivers themselves are checked. If they have a fever, for example, the border services can send these people either to quarantine or for further examination. Anyway, the slowdown in freight traffic shall be taken into account.
Truck drivers (both Polish and foreign) are not covered by the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
For the owners of transport companies, the provisions of the special law on combating COVID-19 in Poland are important, which introduce the exclusion of liability of air, rail or road transport companies for damage caused in connection with the measures taken by the authorities to combat COVID-19 (in particular for the lack of transport capacity).
Production activities in Poland - no restrictions so far
With the exception of restrictions on border traffic, the current rules adopted in the context of the COVID-19 do not provide restrictions on production activities.
This means that production companies can still operate in Poland as before.
Production activities are at the moment affected only by the effects of general solutions, such as the possibility for parents of children up to 8 years of age to take advantage of the special 14-day care allowance and the recommendation to send as many employees as possible to so-called distance work (in production, this may mainly affect office workers).
The provisions of the Coronavirus Act make it possible to instruct private companies to take actions against the COVID-19 prevention. Such measures can only be taken on the basis of an agreement between the company and the Polish Wojewoda (regional head of administration). The company will receive a payment from the state budget.
Retail - restrictions in shopping centres
The provisions establishing an epidemic state of emergency provide for a total ban on trade in shops selling clothing, footwear, textiles, furniture, household appliances, stationery and books operating in establishments (shopping centres) larger than 2 000 m2. Shops operating outside such shopping centres may continue to operate as before.
Grocery stores and pharmacies may continue to operate without restriction regardless of their location (in or outside shopping centres).
The rules on the introduction of an epidemic risk provide a prohibilition on the preparation and serving of drinks and meals to customers on the premises. At the moment, it is only allowed to serve drinks and meals to take away or directly to the customer at their homes. Bars and pubs where meals are not served will be closed.
Entertainment activities - significant restrictions
Due to the COVID-19 prevention, cinemas, theatres and cultural institutions in Poland will remain closed. Sports, entertainment and leisure facilities (including gyms and swimming pools) will be closed.
Public gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited.
No compensation for the restrictions at the moment
The restrictions have just been introduced. At the moment, the emergency regulations do not provide for compensation from the state for the reduction of business opportunities in Poland. However, the Polish government has announced the introduction of a first series of support measures for entrepreneurs. We wait for the details.
dr Mateusz Korus, MLB - attorney-at-law