Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis commended Greeks for adhering to the restrictive measures implemented over the past five weeks to stem of the spread of the coronavirus in the country but warned against complacency that could lead to a resurgence of the virus in a televized address to the nation on Monday evening.
“The war has not been won yet,” he said, adding that Greeks have endured personal sacrifices “with a high sense of responsibility.”
Mitsotakis said the restive measures “won us precious time” to better organize the national healthcare system. “You deserve a big thank you for your trust and disciplined behavior…we showed our best self.”
However, he said “the slightest complacency can lead to a painful backtracking.”
The return to normal life will be gradual, in phases and only when it is supported by scientific data, he explained, adding that measures will remain in place to protect the elderly and those suffering from serious illnesses.
Mitsotakis also heralded a new national healthcare system, pledging to add hundreds of ICU beds to swiftly approach the European average and prepare the country for next winter when the virus is “very likely” to return. “In five weeks we achieved what hasn’t been done in decades.”
He said the biggest gain from the “unprecedented crisis” will be the trust towards the state, the government and the fellow citizen. “It was proven that the state must primarily be judged on its effectiveness and when the state does not become a trophy it becomes a real polity…that assigns critical posts to those most capable,” a realization will become more important as the country starts rebuilding its economy, he said.
The prime minister warned that the recession in 2020 will be “big” but that the recovery in 2021 could be “even bigger,” and announced a one-off handout of 400 euros for 155,000 long-term unemployed.
Commenting on the start of the Orthodox Holy Week, he described it as "the most crucial" in the fight against the coronavirus and called on citizens to spend Easter away from churches and friendly gatherings.
“Our faith is not at risk, but the health of the faithful,” he said. “A thread separates victory from disaster and if we don’t heed to the advice of the experts until the end, we may destroy all we have achieved.”