Poland’s Gastro-Rebellion

The movement, which now encompasses hundreds of businesses across the country, was conceived in the mountainous regions of southern Poland. Here, the skiing season would be in full swing at this time of the year, were it not for a total ban on tourism and other recreational activities, including dining out, that the government said will last until at least the end of January.

Having to stay closed during peak season, after months and months of on-and-off restrictions, seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back for many business owners in the region and beyond.

"We are opening because we have small children and it all costs money - the food, the kindergarten, the doctors," Artur G., the owner of a bed & breakfast in Zakopane, a tourist town in southern Poland, told BIRN. "We have bills to pay and loans, and we can't count on the help of the government."

Artur G., who is taking part in #otwieraMY, explained that his business only received a few thousand zloty (around 1,000 euros) and some tax breaks in the spring, but no other help since the pandemic began almost a year ago. He said his business did not qualify for support from the government's anti-crisis packages that were available this winter.

"What the government has given us so far is just a few percentage points of what we could make if we were open," he said.

Like others who have joined the protest, Artur G. is additionally upset by what he perceives as the arbitrariness of government restrictions. "In our region, churches are full every Sunday and people - mostly seniors - take communion directly from the hands of the priest, which are not disinfected each time," he complained, adding that he thinks the risk of people getting infected while visiting his villa...

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