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UPDATE 1-Polish retailers welcome shopping malls' restart

(Adds industry comments, background)

WARSAW, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Polish retailers have welcomed the government’s decision to reopen shopping malls on Feb. 1, saying it will help them survive the pandemic crisis.

Earlier on Thursday, the health minister said shopping centres would reopen on Monday as the number of coronavirus infections has fallen.

“We are opening shops in shopping malls, with the sanitary regime maintained,” Adam Niedzielski told a news conference. The government would decide on what to do about other curbs in two weeks, he said.

Most shops in malls, as well as hotels and ski resorts, have been closed since the end of December. Only children in the first three years of primary school attend regular lessons.

Polish retailers have complained that the shopping mall restrictions unfairly discriminated against clothing and other shops and threatened to sue the state.

The Association of Polish Employers of Trade and Services - whose more than 150 members range from the country’s biggest fashion and shoe retailers LPP and CCC to small family-run businesses, said the industry has been “drowning”.

“Entrepreneurs have long stopped thinking about profits, now they are struggling to make up for the gigantic losses they have suffered and continue to suffer from the pandemic,” it said in a statement.

Niedzielski said that the pandemic situation in Poland has stabilised, but the government has to take into consideration risks related to the high number of infections in other European countries and to new variants of the virus. (Reporting by Anna Koper and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk Writing by Agnieszka Barteczko Editing by Peter Graff and Giles Elgood)

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