NEWS

May 10 seen as milestone for coronavirus measures

COSTIS P. PAPADIOCHOS

TAGS: Coronavirus

With the coronavirus casting its shadow over Greek society and the economy, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is reportedly drafting alternative intervention scenarios that seek to lead the country back to normalcy as soon as possible.

The prevailing assessment among government officials, based on the views of experts, suggests that May 10 could be a milestone for the gradual relaxation of the restrictive measures currently in place. The precondition for this to occur is the confirmation of estimates of a letup in the momentum of the virus over Easter and that, until that time, the safety guidelines and restrictions be strictly observed by the public.

According to reports, the measures will be phased out gradually rather than scrapped all at once in order to avoid sparking a possible resurgence of the virus. According to the same reports, movement restrictions will be ended first while the reopening of schools, shops and restaurants will be announced within a reasonable timeframe. In the third and final phase, domestic and foreign air transport will be restored.

However, it is not lost on the government that the phaseout can only proceed as long as other adverse factors are kept at bay – such as the persistence of the pandemic or, later, the reappearance of the virus in the autumn.

The government is also aware that the extent of the recession the economy is facing could be reduced if restrictions are lifted before the end of May and the tourist season is at least partially saved.

Tellingly, according to estimates, each month the existing status quo is prolonged entails a recessionary downturn of 2 percent, while public liquidity will also come under pressure as of May.

While the PM remains adamant regarding the priority to protect the health and income of citizens, he will insist on seeking European solutions to the sudden crisis triggered by the coronavirus. A case in point is the leading role he played in the initiative by the nine member-states of the European Union to call for a Eurobond.

Mitsotakis’ aides say that, despite the wall raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel along with the Netherlands and Austria during Thursday’s leaders summit via teleconference, intense deliberations are expected over the next fortnight as Italy and Spain “are too big to fall.”

However, Mitsotakis is not expected to take unilateral actions, such as the use of the safety cushion proposed by SYRIZA, as the government believes that if it makes such a move, the confidence it has built in the markets that has led to extremely low borrowing rates will be immediately eradicated and it will only be a matter of time before Greece is forced to ask for another bailout. 

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