WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Police in Poland on Saturday called on a small protest by business people to disperse because of a ban on large gatherings and the need to keep social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic .
The protest, demanding an end to an anti-COVID-19 lockdown, was attended by a few dozen people in downtown Warsaw. It was led by an independent candidate in Poland’s trouble-ridden presidential election, running against incumbent President Andrzej Duda.
The election was planned for May 10 but was delayed amid political and legislative confusion in midst of the pandemic. The new date for the vote has not been officially announced yet, but the government suggests it will be held June 28.
The independent candidate, Pawel Tanajno, a businessman, was taken to a police car and had his documents checked.
The protesters, wearing face masks because of the pandemic, demanded that the government lift restrictions imposed on businesses in the fight against the new coronavirus. They carried banners with the Polish colors of white and red, some with text calling for the end of the government of the right-wing Law and Justice party.
Large numbers of police separated reporters from the protest.
Some opposition lawmakers and government critics noted that police did not intervene earlier Saturday when Duda was meeting with people in a crowded open-air market on a campaign stop in Garwolin, near Warsaw.
For his part, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was forced to explain why he could be seen in photos with three other people at a restaurant Friday, without protective masks.
He said the distancing was “advised, but is not an order.”
With a population of some 38 million, Poland has reported almost 21,000 coronavirus cases, and nearly 1,000 deaths.