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Polish bars celebrate midnight reopening

Poland celebrated at the strike of midnight on Friday as bars and restaurants re-opened for the first time in over six months.

Poles were gathered in a square in the capital Warsaw, watching as a clock counted down the seconds.

One manager of a few bars there compared it to New Year's Eve.

"The mood is very much like New Year's Eve. You can feel the energy among the business owners and the employees. The whole Polish hospitality (industry) has been waiting and counting down the time. That's why we came up with the idea of installing this clock, to count down time to the reopening of Polish catering businesses."

Starting Saturday, Poles will no longer be required to wear masks as long as they remain socially distant.

And after only being able to serve take-away food since October, bars and restaurants can now offer outdoor service.

Indoor service will reopen with limited capacity on May 28.

One bar customer described getting her social life back, now able to go out and have a drink without being fined for not wearing a mask.

The government began easing restrictions this month, after the number of coronavirus cases in Poland dropped sharply in April.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, about 14% of the population are now fully vaccinated, while about 36% of the country's population have received at least one dose.