By: Claire Bergin
A new law cutting down Sunday trading in Poland has come into effect. The legislation, proposed by the Solidarity trade union and supported by the Catholic Church, will limit shopping to the first and last Sundays of the month. Next year trade will only be allowed on the last Sunday of the month before a wider ban halts shopping on most Sundays from 2020.
Solidarity said it introduced the change to ensure retail staff get free time at the weekends.
The ban does not apply to outlets such as online stores, petrol stations, airports, bakeries, pharmacies and flower shops.
Up to now, shops in Poland have remained closed for 12 days a year for major national or religious holidays.
Anyone infringing the new regulations faces a fine of up to PLN 100,000 (EUR 23,900, USD 29,250). Repeat offenders may face a prison sentence.
MPs opposed to the new ruling said it would particularly affect the already-low salaries of retail staff. But one shop worker in Krakow said: "My colleagues and I welcome this. We need time to spend with our families. Before we were afraid to take time off but it is good that we can officially take a break."
Switzerland and Norway limit Sunday shopping, while Austria has a blanket ban.
See also the UK-based Keep Sunday Special campaign: www.keepsundayspecial.org.uk