The Polish government on Wednesday extended the nationwide lockdown by a week, saying the recent “zenith of the epidemic’s third wave” is starting to affect health care facilities.

It is the second extension of the lockdown since it was put in place on March 27. The current lockdown would have expired on April 18, Xinhua news agency reported.

The measure meant that restrictions on shops, which are allowed one customer per 20 square meters, will now last till April 25. The same limit remains in force for places of worship, while furniture stores and hardware stores larger than 2,000 square meters will stay closed. Hotels and other establishments offering sleeping facilities will face restrictions till May 3 at least.

However, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said that nurseries and preschools will be allowed to open starting on Monday, while restrictions on outdoor sports will also be lifted.

“The restrictions aim to minimize pressure put on our infrastructure for healthcare and ventilators,” Niedzielski said.

On Wednesday, another 21,283 people have been confirmed infected with the coronavirus in Poland. Over 2.6 million Poles have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the official start of the pandemic in March last year, with close to 60,000 reported dead.

Poland is one of a number of European countries that have not restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports of rare cases of blood clots. The country has so far given 7.9 million of its citizens at least one jab.

–IANS

int/pgh