At the end of February 2020, Poland was already facing a threat of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. The authorities decided to introduce a temporary law that was enabling the management of health crises. Above all, they wanted to be prepared for the necessity of immediate and express construction of facilities (e.g. hospitals) in which people would be saved, without a long administrative procedure . On March 8, the ‘Act of March 2, 2020 on specific solutions related to the prevention and combating COVID and other infectious diseases and crises they caused’ (in brief ‘COVID Act’) took effect nationwide.
The 12th section of this act reads as follows: for the design, construction, reconstruction, renovation, maintenance and demolition of buildings and facilities, including changes in their use, the following regulations don’t apply: construction regulations, Spatial Planning and Development Act, and an Act on the Protection and Guardianship of Monuments . So, the constructor has only to quickly inform the authorities.
Unfortunately, the legislator didn’t provide for any criteria and control measures, inter alia, to determine the actual use of effects of construction works . Therefore, this law was used by anyone who declared their will to counteract COVID-19, which did not necessarily have to be in line with real intentions. Many developers and owners of historic buildings used this situation to get rich. They wanted to bypass the time-consuming administrative procedures preceding the commencement of construction or reconstruction, and even use the legal loophole to implement investments in places where they would normally be prohibited, often at the cost of the environment and society. The consequence of the imperfect ‘COVID Lex’ was environmental conflicts all over Poland.
It is best to illustrate the problems arising from the new legislation with the Bemowo case. It concerns the new construction in the Janów village adjacent to Warsaw – located in the Stare Babice Commune in the Warsaw West County. It is about a housing estate called ‘Healthy and Ecological Green - Masovian Non-public Complex for Combating COVID-19 and eliminating the socio-economic effects caused by COVID-19‘ . The investor argued that this development in less than 12 months will be intended for people under quarantine, and in the next period they will be offered for living to people who have lost their houses or apartments as a result of the pandemic .
On September 3, 2020 the developer submitted a notification to the West Warsaw County that started the construction of a housing estate on a plot no. 180 . This area is located in the Bemowo Forest  between two fragments of the ‘Elk Swamps’ Nature Reserve (in its buffer zone), in the buffer zone of the Kampinos National Park, and within the borders of the Warsaw Protected Landscape Area, where there is a prohibition on killing wild animals, destroying their burrows, lairs, or other shelters and breeding places . On September 7, the social initiative of nature admirers ‘NO for the development of the Bemowo Forest’ alerted on its own Facebook page about the destruction of a beaver dam located in the proposed housing estate . Authorities at all levels quickly became interested in this matter  .
On September 14, 2020 the Minister of Environment and Climate announced that the investments submitted under the ‘COVID Act’ aren’t exempt from the limitations and requirements of the Nature Conservation Act, the Water Law and the Act on the Protection of Agricultural and Forest Land . Therefore, the State Building Supervision Inspection suspended construction works. On October 2020, the local community – and more specifically the Babice for Nature Association – managed to fight for participation in the official proceedings against the developer, despite the fact that it hadn’t been approved before . In turn, on October 21, the proceedings of the Regional Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw were initiated in the matter of causing significant damage to the plant and animal world in connection with the commencement and conduct of construction works .
The inhabitants of the area became extremely active in saving the Bemowo Forest. On September 12, 2020 they organized a protest entitled 'Elks yes! Developers no!' . Over 200 people pointed out that plot no. 180 is a migration route for elks from the ‘Elk Swamps’ Nature Reserve to the Kampinos National Park. Moreover, the strength of social opposition was expressed in informing the media, sending letters to many offices, neighborhood monitoring, educational walks, forest cleaning campaigns. Nature lovers have managed to discover that the developer, despite the order to suspend construction, repeatedly destroyed the dam recreated by beavers, brought electricity to the plot and, in March 2021, cut trees in an area of 2-3 hectares during the bird breeding season. However, the construction didn’t start, especially when a heavy equipment entry ban sign was placed.
The struggle with developer has been going on since 2004, when bought a 20-hectare plot from the Military Property Agency (ex-radar army base) . Since then, attempts have been made to develop the area for the purpose of housing development. However, not much could have happened, because the 2011 Local Development Plan  allowed only afforestation and recreation in this place. The situation changed in 2018 when the 'Developer Act' entered into force in Poland. It allows the construction of housing investments by circumventing the strict guidelines of local plans. The only fuse is that the construction must be approved by the commune council. In this case, however, it was not issued by the decision of January 9, 2020 .
Another example of an inadequate use of the ‘COVID Act’ is the construction of a housing estate of 12-two-story houses (de jure one of them will be a rehabilitation center, de facto: all summer houses), which is being built near the beach on Puck Bay, in Mechelinki village, in the vicinity of a nature reserve. In this case, the administration is afraid to make a hasty decision to suspend the construction due to possible high compensation .