Poland is to reopen outdoor pools, non-essential shops, museums, art galleries, restaurants and terraces over coming days as the central European country registers fewer coronavirus cases.

The relaxed rules, due to be in force from Saturday when more sports activities will be allowed to take place, come as recent figures give grounds for “cautious optimism”, the prime minister said as he laid out plans to reopen the economy.

“Data we receive about infections allow us to make decisions related to unfreezing the economy,” said Mateusz Morawiecki at a news briefing on Wednesday with the minister of health Adam Niedzielski . “These data give some grounds for such cautious optimism.”

Stores in shopping centres, DIY and furniture outlets will open from Tuesday, with social-distancing rules in place, Morawiecki said.

Hotels are to reopen on May 8, at 50 per cent occupancy, while terraces in restaurants and cafes can do so a week later.

Cinemas, theatres and indoor restaurants can open their doors on May 29, also the date when pupils of all ages can return to the classroom.

“Probably, when it comes to infections, the worst is behind us, but we should also remember that around 25,000 people are still in hospitals,” the prime minister said. “A return to normalcy depends essentially on the rate of vaccination,” he added.

Poland registered 8,895 coronavirus cases and 636 deaths linked to Covid-19 as well as underlying conditions, the latest figures out on Wednesday showed. More than 10m Poles have received at least one dose of the vaccine, or about 21 per cent of the population.

The third coronavirus wave hit the healthcare system particularly hard in March and April, bringing it close to its limits as Poland battled through its most difficult days of the pandemic. The more infectious B.1.1.7 strain of the virus first detected in the UK caused the surge, accounting for 90 per cent of new cases in the country.

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