Greek government declared a one-month partial COVID-19 lockdown to avoid deteriorating of the situation. As Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday, bars, restaurants and other leisure activities in Athens and other major cities shutting down starting from Tuesday.
Declaring the unpopular measure in a televised address, PM Mitsotakis said that the partial lockdown is an inevitable measure. The stricter health protocol requires shutting down public places like eateries, cafes, clubs, cinemas, museums and gyms. At the same time, lockdown would not affect retail businesses and schools, to soften the blow to the Greek economy.
“We must act now, before intensive care units buckle under the strain of lives in danger,” Mitsotakis said and added that COVID-19 is attacking in waves, and the nation needs to quickly adapt.
As of Saturday, Greece has registered over 37,000 coronavirus cases since February, including over 1,600 on Friday. Accelerating from August onwards, the novel pathogen killed 620.
Athens is not one city where stricter measures adopted. The preventive measures apply to most major cities in northern Greece including Thessaloniki, Larissa and Ioannina. The rest of the country will have to abide by an overnight curfew from midnight to 5:00 am, in addition to the compulsory use of masks even indoors, the prime minister said.
But in contrast to a nationwide lockdown imposed in March, movement between regions is not restricted for now, according to Mitsotakis whose government has learnt the lessons from spring lockdown.
Retail businesses, industry and schools will remain open, along with service industries like hotels and hairdressing salons. “A total lockdown would hurt the economy and society,” Mitsotakis said.
The government had already declared a night curfew from 00:30 am to 0500 am in Athens, Thessaloniki and other areas on October 22. That followed localised lockdowns in the northern regions of Kozani and Kastoria earlier this month.
Greece reports a gradual increase in infections since early October
Greece has reported less cases coronavirus than most in Europe, but has seen a gradual increase in infections since early October.
On Saturday, Greece registered 1,547 new corona cases, its highest daily tally. There were 1,211 new cases reported on Thursday and 12 deaths, bringing the number of deaths since the onset of the virus in late February to 615.
A curfew on night-time movement, until now applicable to the hardest-hit areas, would be expanded across the country from midnight to 5.00 am.