Polish businesses to defy Covid lockdown and re-open

Ski slopes, restaurants and hotels in Poland’s tourist-reliant mountainous south have announced they will defy anti-virus restrictions and reopen Monday, as small business owners nationwide grow increasingly weary of lockdown.

A couple of hundred entrepreneurs have joined the so-called “Highlanders’ Veto” movement, whose leader Sebastian Piton announced the disobedience campaign while clad in the traditional outfit of the Tatra mountains.

“The entrepreneurs are this determined because they realise they won’t survive another month — so they have no choice,” said Piton, who has called coronavirus a “minor, pleasant illness”.

“This is our last chance to veto this government policy, which is ruining us,” he told the Polish news agency PAP.

On Monday, Poland’s government extended most of the anti-virus restrictions through the end of the month, requiring ski slopes, gyms and hotels to remain closed to the general public and restaurants to only do takeaway service. 

The government also announced it would offer 1 billion zloty to struggling businesses in Poland’s mountain areas, but the highlanders responded that it was not enough, with Piton calling the help “scraps”. 

The highlanders are not the only ones losing patience with the government’s response to the pandemic, with many small business owners nationwide taking to social media to announce they are opening back up. 

The Twitter account @OtwieraMY (“WE are opening) has been posting the names and addresses of bars, restaurants, ice rinks and other places choosing to defy the Covid closures. 

Members of Poland’s tourist and hotel industry have also filed a lawsuit over the restrictions, demanding compensation from the treasury.

The fitness sector is also planning to sue, and an association of retailers has threatened to do so as well.