Polish sanitary authorities beef up COVID-19 inspection

WARSAW, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Polish sanitary authorities have drastically increased inspection on restaurants, bars, coffee shops, clubs and gyms in an effort to enforce bans on receiving guests on premises in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 1,300 such inspections have taken place on Monday alone, with around 45 fines handed out, Krzysztof Saczka, deputy head of the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate, told news website Wirtualna Polska on Tuesday.

Many Polish hospitality businesses reopened this week in defiance of an ongoing ban, citing a lack of government support and rising debts, mainly in rents due. Hundreds have rallied under an online hashtag #otwieraMY - which loosely translates as 'WE are opening'- and released an interactive online map of businesses reopening, despite fines of up to 30,000 Polish Zloty (6,600 euros).

A survey released by the Polish Economic Institute earlier this month showed that 40 percent of hospitality businesses viewed their situation as 'bad' or 'very bad', with pandemic restrictions seen as the prime reason behind their difficulties.

Restaurants are only allowed to offer takeaway services. The ban was initially put in place until Jan. 17, but was extended until at least the end of the month with little prospects of loosening afterwards.

Meanwhile, e-commerce sites have seen their businesses thriving, as a third of Poles increase their online purchases, a new report from Santander Consumer Bank found.

Gemius, an e-commerce data company, estimated a 27 percent growth in e-commerce in the country in 2020.

Chinese e-commerce platform AliExpress announced Tuesday that it would speed up delivery to the central European country, while also opening its own network of delivery lockers that have been extremely popular in Poland.

"While I cannot give exact figures for deliveries made and revenue, I can say that growth in Poland has been in three-digit over the past three weeks," Gary Topp, the regional head for AliExpress Central and Eastern Europe, told wiadomoscihandlowe.pl in an interview published on Tuesday.

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