Poland Sunday Shopping Ban Takes Effect
A new law banning Sunday trading in Poland has gone into effect, with supermarkets and other retail outlets closed in the staunchly Catholic country.
At first the legislation, sought 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 on weekends.
The liberal opposition and other critics argue it will limit job opportunities for students and cramp cross-border shopping from the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine and Slovakia.
"Rather than ban (trading), we should motivate employees by doubling their pay on Sunday," retiree Jacek Mizierski told AFP near a supermarket in the capital Warsaw.
But fellow retiree Barbara Pantek said it was a good solution.
"We have time to do our shopping on weekdays. On Sundays we go to mass and visit the family," she said.
The law applies to foreign-owned hypermarket chains as well as other non-Polish players. It will still allow shopping online and at smaller locally-owned shops including bakeries and petrol stations.
The ban was first proposed by Solidarity in 2016. The right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government, which is close to the Catholic Church, got behind the ban and passed the legislation in November.
Sunday shopping became a popular family pastime in Poland with the advent of the free market after the collapse of communism in 1989.
Hungary backtracked on a similar ban after it proved widely unpopular.
Switzerland and Norway limit Sunday shopping, while Austria has a blanket ban.
Up to now, stores in Poland have remained closed for 12 days a year for major national or religious holidays.