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WARSAW, Poland (LifeSiteNews) – Conservative, majority-Catholic Poland has joined the ranks of countries mandating COVID-19 vaccination.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said at a news conference Tuesday that all teachers, medical professionals, and first responders, including police officers and firefighters, must be “fully vaccinated” by March 1 to maintain their jobs. The mandate will also apply to the military.

Niedzielski described the move as “following in the footsteps of Germany and Austria,” both which recently mandated the jab for the same three sectors.

The health minister added that, starting December 15, churches, hotels, restaurants, and theaters will be required to reduce their capacity from the current 50 percent to 30 percent, the AP reported. Public transportation will be limited to 75 percent capacity, and nightclubs will be closed entirely.

Capacity limits can be exceeded for the vaccinated, however, despite the fact that they can still catch and spread COVID-19.

Polish schools will also shift to online learning around the Christmas holiday, between December 20 and January 9.

Poland’s ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), is considering an additional policy to allow employers to access workers’ COVID-19 test results. The party, led by Prime Minster Andrzej Duda, notably rejected a proposal last week to outlaw abortion as homicide.

Niedzielski said Tuesday that “the employer will — in accordance with this new approach — have the right to expect the test result to be presented by the employee — precisely in order to build a safe work environment.”

Anyone who shares a house with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 will face mandatory testing starting next week, regardless of their COVID status.

Though more than half of Poles are “fully vaccinated,” Poland, like many European countries, is reporting near-record case levels, comparable to this time last year, before the vaccine rollout even began.

“There are no signals of a clear downward trend,” Niedzielski said, adding that “there is a risk that the Omicron mutation will appear.”

“These two factors require us to take decisive action,” he said.

No global deaths have yet been attributed to Omicron, as of Friday. Early reports indicate that the variant is likely less severe than other forms of coronavirus, which has a mortality rate of 2.3 percent in Poland.

Poland follows other European countries led by conservative or center-right governments that have embraced draconian COVID-19 mandates in recent weeks, amid a virus surge that widespread vaccination and stringent lockdowns didn’t prevent.

Last month, Austria became the first Western nation to mandate the jab for all citizens age 14 and up. Greece announced plans last Tuesday for a similar mandate for senior citizens.

And in Hungary, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán recently introduced booster jab requirements for health care workers, mandatory vaccination for state-run institutions, and COVID passes for large public gatherings.

Several other European countries, including Germany, France, and Switzerland, have also announced new COVID measures in the past week, setting off a fresh wave of protests across the continent.

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