Poland shuts schools until Easter

European leaders summit in Brussels

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's government has declared a state of epidemic and will cancel school classes until Easter, Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday, as it aims to clamp down on the spread of the coronavirus.

"We are today introducing a state of epidemic...which gives us new prerogatives but also gives us new responsibilities. We have decided to cancel lessons until Easter. It is a difficult but important decision," he told a Friday news conference.

Poland had cancelled classes for students earlier this month until March 25 and shut its borders to foreigners in an effort to curtail the spread of the virus.

It also shuttered museums, theaters and cinemas and limited public gatherings to no more than 50 people.

In response to a question on whether the May 10 presidential elections would be called off as a result of the change to a state of epidemic, Morawiecki said, "No, it doesn't mean elections at a later date."

Multiple opposition candidates have called for the election to be officially postponed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Poland currently has 411 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 5 deaths.


(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)