Nearly one year since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday that Athens and its surrounding area will return to a strict lockdown akin to its first which began in March 2020.
The new regional measures will start on Thursday, February 11, and last at least until Sunday, February 28. All non-essential businesses will remain closed and all schools will operate remotely except for special education programs which will continue in person.
Mitsotakis said the new measures will be further specified on Wednesday by Greek authorities.
“Our experience from the first wave of the pandemic, as well as from the lockdown after Christmas festivities, shows that — the faster the restrictions are applied, the faster they are lifted,” the prime minister said. “And the more drastic the restrictions are, the more effective their results are. This is the reason for today’s decisions [by the government].”
Mitsotakis said his government recognizes that the restrictions will cause damage to the economy, but that “There is no economy without health, nor good customers without healthy citizens.”
The announcement comes after Greek authorities reported 1,526 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday — more than double from the previous day and more than half of which came from the Attica region. Greece’s COVID-19 death toll has reached 6,017 since the country’s first case was reported in February 2020.
More than 400,000 Greeks have received COVID-19 vaccines and citizens ages 60-64 are scheduled to begin receiving shots on February 15.
“We recognize that, starting in April, we’ll be much better off,” Mitsotakis said. “But right now we must prevent the danger.”
The prime minister said that, as long as the crisis continues, the Greek state will continue to support affected businesses.
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