Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addressed the nation on Thursday announcing new measures aimed at halting a worrying spike in coronavirus infections.
The most drastic of the measures is a nighttime curfew and restriction of movement between 12:30am and 5:00am in high risk areas, including the cities of Athens, Thessaloniki and their wider regions— which account for more than half of the country’s population.
Face masks will also be mandatory outdoors and in public indoor spaces.
“The coming months are going to be difficult. And since a general lockdown is not my choice, other measures are required; smarter, more targeted and eventually more effective,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address.
“Now is not the time for secret parties, when this virus is having a party at the expense of our lives,” the prime minister added, alluding to numerous villa parties and other illegal gatherings which were commonplace during the summer months.
On Thursday, the government health authorities announced 882 new cases of coronavirus and 15 deaths in the preceding 24 hour period.
More worrisome is that two-thirds of the country’s intensive care beds are full and experts warn that hospitals could become overwhelmed in the next two weeks if numbers of cases continue to increase at their current trajectory.
The situation is particularly alarming in northern Greece, where two regions — Kastoria and Kozani — are already in lockdown as they have reached the highest level of the country’s four-tier risk assessment system.
The aim of the night-time curfews, Mitsotakis said, is to curb gatherings that have helped spread the virus. He appealed to young people, who have accounted for the majority of new infections in recent days, to show maturity and rise to the occasion.
“At this time it would be good for you young people to turn your drive into responsibility,” Mitsotakis said, noting that, “there will be less enjoyment, perhaps, for a while, but there will be more health for a long time.”
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