The Polish government yesterday revealed an unprecedented economic support plan as countries around the world struggle with the economic damage caused by the ongoing pandemic.
The PLN 212 billion (EUR 47 billion) stimulus package has been dubbed the „Crisis Shield” and will include a PLN 7.5 billion boost for health services.
The bulk of the funds however will go to supporting businesses and securing the financial system.
The announcement comes after the European Union pledged a further EUR 7 billion to Poland to help fight off a recession.
Countries around the world have been announcing similar plans. On Tuesday the UK’s Chancellor revealed a programme worth GBP350 billion, that’s PLN1.7 trillion. The plan is equivalent to some 15% of the UK’s GDP and is unprecedented in peacetime.
Meanwhile in the United States, the world’s largest economy, President Trump is reportedly looking at a stimulus programme worth an astonishing USD 1 trillion, that’s more than PLN 4 trillion.
Huge queues at Poland’s border crossings and Poles and Balts rush home
(The streets of Gdansk may be deserted as people ZostanWDomu but the same cannot be said for Poland’s border towns.)
On Sunday Poland joined other EU countries in closing its borders to all but citizens, residents, and some critical services such as health and logistics.
But as Polish diaspora citizens from across Europe rush to return to Poland amid tightening travel restrictions, there have been reports of bottlenecks at border towns around the country.
At the German border town of Frankfurt an Der Oder queues tailed back 60 kilometres, almost to outskirts of Berlin.
Some truck drivers reported waiting for 18 hours at the crossing in Jedrzychowice.
Also returning home are citizens of the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and as air travel grinds to a halt across Europe, many have been left with no way to return but by road. However, the Polish border closure has cut off the only road links to the Baltic states from the rest of Europe.
The Polish authorities have now introduced a convoy system for vans and buses to escort Balts across Poland, stopping only at designated gas stations.
Polish and Baltic governments have also chartered ferries to transport citizens from German ports and Lithuania is operating a non-stop train across Poland.
China ramps up support to Europe as it reports first day with no new domestic cases
There was some good news out of China this morning as the country reported it’s first day with no new domestic cases of the virus.
New cases were reported however all of these are understood to have come from other infected countries.
China, where the virus began, has managed to largely contain the virus with strict quarantine measures.
Now, the country is launching massive humanitarian campaign to other affected countries, saying yesterday that it would donate more than two million facemasks and 50,000 testing kits to Europe.
(Thanking China in a tweet, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said „Today, we’re grateful for China’s support. We need each other’s support in times of need”.)
Back in January, the EU donated 50 tonnes of equipment during the initial outbreak in Wuhan.
Shopping for Seniors raises funds to support Tricity’s elderly
In Trójmiasto there’s an appeal to raise funds to support elderly people to stay at home.
The „Zakupy dla Seniorów” or „Shopping for Seniors” initiative is raising money to buy and deliver shopping to elderly people so they don’t have to leave home during the pandemic.
The plan is to deliver shopping directly to the homes of senior citizens who can then pay for the groceries after the pandemic has passed.
You can donate to the fundraiser by searching Zakupy dla Seniorów w Trójmieście or by following the link of the Radio Gdansk English News page for 19th March.
It was a cloudy start this morning but it should clear up this afternoon and into the evening.
Temperatures are dropping over the next few days with 9°C, 48°F on the thermometer this afternoon and a low of 2°C, 35°F, overnight.