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Poland Opens Malls But Keeps Schools Closed on Wait for Vaccine

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Poland will allow shopping malls to reopen, while keeping restaurants, cinemas and schools closed as Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki asked for more patience until a virus vaccine arrives.

“We need 100 more days of solidarity,” Morawiecki told reporters on Saturday. “Now we need to ask of ourselves more than ever.”

Poland introduced a near-full lockdown earlier this month after Covid-19 infections surged in October, with daily deaths climbing to a record 637 earlier this week. Schools will remain closed until at least mid-January, while gyms, cinemas, theaters and restaurants won’t reopen before Dec. 27.

Shopping malls and furniture stores can reopen from Nov. 28, including on at least two Sundays in December. The Polish cabinet will decide in three weeks whether to lift other restrictions. If the seven-day average of daily cases — currently at 21,765 — falls below 19,000, there will be room for further easing, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said. The next threshold is at 9,400.

Morawiecki asked Poles to stay at home for Christmas, adding that the government is working on legal ways to limit travel during that period.

Poland, which is spending as much as 10 billion zloty ($2.65 billion) to support restriction-hit industries in November and December, is working on new measures to help save jobs, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin said.

  • Separately, the Health Ministry said Covid-19 cases rose by 24,213 to 843,475 on Saturday, compared with 22,464 on Friday and 25,571 a week earlier
  • Deaths rose by 574 to a total of 13,288

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World News

Polish Ruling Party’s Backing Plunges After Court Abortion Ban

Support for Poland’s ruling party plunged after its chairman, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, defended a Supreme Court abortion ruling, denounced protesters and called on people to defend churches “at all costs.”

More than half a million Poles protested in about 500 towns and cities on Friday against the Oct. 22 ruling, which effectively banned all abortions except for in cases of incest, rape or danger to the mother’s life.

The verdict, which arose from a court challenge from the governing Law & Justice Party, further tightened one of Europe’s strictest abortion legal regimes and requires that fetuses with lethal birth defects be carried to term and delivered.

Party Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the nation’s most powerful politician, denounced the pro-choice ralliers as “nihilists.” Law & Justice has vowed to return Polish society to its traditional Catholic roots and opposes the European Union’s liberal, multi-cultural values, a stance that has put it at odds with the bloc.

But the party’s support has fallen since the court ruling. Last month, 30.9% of Poles backed Law & Justice, a decline of 9.6 percentage points, according to an Oct. 31 poll by United Surveys for Radio RMF and Dziennik newspaper. The opposition-leading Civic Coalition gained two points to 25.3%.

‘Wait It Out’

Nearly 70% Poles saw Kaczynski’s recent actions negatively and more than 70% believe he should step down as head of the party, according to a separate survey by the IBRiS pollster for the Rzeczpospolita newspaper.

“We can see tumbling support in several polls but the ruling party seems to believe it can wait it out,” Jaroslaw Flis, a sociologist at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, said on TVN24 Monday. The next general election is scheduled for 2023.

Kaczynski’s denunciation of the protests has only inflamed the anger over the court ruling, while right-wing activists have clashed with protesters and the police.

On Friday over 800,000 people protested across Poland, including over 100,000 who gathered in the capital in a peaceful march. More street blockades are expected Monday, with organizers saying they will continue until the court ruling’s consequences are reversed.

The United Surveys poll also showed that 60% don’t support an offer of compromise by President Andrzej Duda, who has proposed allowing abortions in cases in which the fetus wouldn’t survive birth.

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Markets

U.S. Talks End, Italy’s Experiment, Poland’s Outlook: Eco Day

Welcome to Wednesday, Europe. Here’s the latest news and analysis from Bloomberg Economics to help you start the day:

  • President Donald Trump ended talks with Democratic leaders on a new stimulus package, hours after Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s strongest call yet for greater spending to avoid damaging the economic recovery
  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is about to embark on the country’s most experimental stimulus of the coronavirus crisis yet in a bid to wean citizens off cash and the tax avoidance that comes with it
  • German manufacturers unexpectedly cut production, underlining the risks resurgent infections pose for the economic recovery.
  • The French economy is set to stagnate in the last three months of the year as uncertainty and the risk of lockdowns stifle investment and consumer spending in the euro area’s second-largest economy
  • Record new cases of Covid-19 are reigniting concerns about Poland’s economic outlook and strengthening the argument for keeping interest rates near zero
  • Here are the results of Bloomberg Economics’s latest estimate of activity using a set of high-frequency, alternative data
  • Central banks’ iron-clad independence appears to be waning due to attacks from politicians, according to a European Central Bank working paper.
  • Two custodians of the global economy signaled that while the early days of pandemic recovery were stronger than expected in some countries and industries, a return to full health is likely to be longer and bumpier than they first predicted
  • U.S. job openings declined in August for the first time in four months, pointing to a moderation in pace of hiring as the pandemic drags on
  • Asia’s fast-growing economies for decades have offered millions of young people the chance to do better than their parents, a path to upward mobility now at risk as youth unemployment soars

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