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Restrictions on Sunday trading in Poland given green light

Polish politicians have approved a law that will phase out Sunday shopping by 2020 despite criticism that it may eliminate thousands of jobs.

Proposed by trade unions that want shop and trade workers to spend more time with their families, the bill got support from the ruling party that adheres to Catholic values.

Critics say it would negatively affect the country's economy, eliminating tens of thousands of jobs, and hurt supermarket chains, which are mostly western.

The lower house, dominated by the ruling party, voted 254-156 with 23 abstentions to limit Sunday shopping to the first and last Sunday of the month from March 1 until the end of 2018.

The prohibition would be widened to only on the last Sunday in the month in 2019, and Sunday trading would be banned totally starting in 2020.

There will, however, be some exceptions that will allow Sunday shopping before major holidays like Christmas and Easter, and on the last Sunday in January, April, June and August.

Online shops and bakeries are to be exempted from the ban.

The bill still needs approval from the Senate and from President Andrzej Duda.

Poland's influential Roman Catholic bishops said in a statement they were not fully satisfied and insisted that all Sundays should be free from work for everyone.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government banned Sunday shopping in 2015 but lifted the prohibition after 13 months because it was highly unpopular with voters.

AP

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