- Warmińsko-Mazurskie Province has been under the strictest epidemic restrictions in the country since Saturday, February 27.
- Closed are, among others, hotels, which the Polish government “opened” two weeks earlier.
- Entrepreneurs from Warmia and Mazury came to Warsaw to express their disapproval of the government’s actions. Business Insider Polska accompanied them during the protest.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
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“If nothing changes in March, layoffs will be necessary,” warn representatives of the hotel industry from Warmia and Mazury, who came to Warsaw to demonstrate their opposition to restrictions on their ability to operate. They called the decision to close the entire province “absurd and unjust.”
Since Saturday, February 27, the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship, as the only one in the country, has been under lockdown. Cinemas, swimming pools, and hotels are closed. The drama of the entrepreneurs is exacerbated by the fact that the closure took place practically overnight and only two weeks after opening. Hoteliers want to work normally and be able to earn money. During the protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office building, they pointed out that there are very different regions in the province in terms of the number of infections.
We want to work
“The situation is dire. The reopening and then closing of each hotel is a huge cost that we have to bear. We have a huge amount of food to distribute. Families don’t know what to prepare for either. We want to bring attention to what is happening. We don’t want to be excluded. Our county is in the middle of nowhere. It is ridiculous that we are compared with large centers,” says Karolina, owner of a hotel in the Mazury region, who along with other hoteliers from Warmia and Mazury came to protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office.
The demonstration was organized under the slogan “We want to work, not protest”. The group of protesters was not very large. It consisted of a dozen or so people. After the press conference, which was attended also by MPs from the Confederation, the protesters were written down by the police.
Aleksandra Nowak, director of Folwark Łękuk, said in an interview with Business Insider Polska that the entrepreneurs came to appeal for help.
“We do not want to drift alone. We want to be noticed because our region is a place with the lowest population density and the highest level of unemployment. Many people work in tourism. Our hotel is a year-round facility that supports about 30 employees. So far we have done everything we can. While we have been opened and closed many times, the ladies in the kitchen have even painted the rooms. This is not a protest at all. We came to say that we just want to work. Under the imposed sanitary regime. There were only two cases of the disease in the neighboring Olecko district. We ask for justice and help. We will adapt to any restrictions,” she argued.
Confederation at the protest
One of the leaders of the Confederation, MP Krzysztof Bosak, pointed out that what entrepreneurs need most of all is the repeal of regulations that limit the freedom of doing business.
“We are against closing selected industries and depriving people of the right to work and earn their living. In the gastronomy industry, people stock up for a few days ahead. In my opinion, it is irrational to assume that entrepreneurs are sleeping on reserves of money. Today I read a statistic that one in five businesses is expected to go out of business. This does not surprise me. Takeovers of hotels by foreign companies have already begun. I don’t understand why Mateusz Morawiecki’s government chose these industries. Anyone who wants to take care of their health can sit at home. Someone who wants to take such a risk is simply responsible for his actions. Hotels are unofficially operating anyway because we have a lot of investments all over the country where people have to spend the night off-site. They have to settle in cash and we create in this way, as during the occupation, the second circulation of money. This is all due to the government’s irrational policy,” he said in an interview with Business Insider Polska.
Information two days before the weekend
Barbara, one of the participants of the picket, pointed out that the entrepreneurs do not want to fight with anyone, and they came only peacefully.
“We want to show that Warmia and Mazury is not as dangerous as it is presented. Our hotel works in the highest regime. Every door handle is disinfected, we ozonize the rooms. We follow the highest guidelines. We were surprised by the situation when two days before the weekend someone closes us. We want the zones to come back again. Some districts are under lockdown even though there is a very low level of disease in them,” she said.
“Absurdity and injustice”
Krzysztof Przyłucki, the owner of Folwark Łękuk added that what is happening is “absurd and unfair”.
“With today’s restrictions, there are as many people in our hotel as in Warsaw in one bus. We have foggers, air purifiers, masks, we disinfect everything every two hours. There’s no point in closing us down. It’s 140 kilometers from us to Olsztyn. In our Gizycko district, the level of the disease is lower than the average in the country,” he said.
Mr. Aleksander, as he admitted, came to Warsaw for his two daughters, who work in the hotel industry. He stressed that both of them live tourism, and another lockdown is a real tragedy for his family and neighbors. In his opinion, the government’s decision to close hotels in Warmia and Mazury province is a mistake.
“We do not want to be on anyone’s pot. We want to work. All hoteliers care about healthcare measures. There was no case of anyone complaining that he got infected in our hotel. If such a state of affairs is to continue, we ask for support. If this situation continues, it will be the end for us. For many months the hotel owners have been keeping their employees. If nothing changes in March, it will be necessary to make redundancies,”he openly admitted.