Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has tasked his committee of health experts to draw up a list of measures that can be applied to stem a surge of new coronavirus infections in the Greek capital.
According to government spokesman Stelios Petsas, the additional restrictions will be imposed on a case-by-case basis when the need arises and lifted when infection numbers in a particular area come under control.
The prime minister’s decision comes after a succession of daily Health Ministry bulletins on the course of the pandemic in Greece put Attica in the eye of the storm. On Sunday, the Greek capital accounted for more than half of the day’s 207 new coronavirus cases and has seen daily infections in the triple figures for the past few weeks.
“The explosion of cases worldwide, the fact that there is greater movement among the population with the reopening of schools and also the increased viral load in certain areas like Pella and Attica, are keeping us on alert,” Petsas told a press briefing in Athens on Monday.
Unlike in Attica where the majority of new cases appear to be community transmissions, the northern Greek region Pella has been struggling with outbreaks at several food processing plants that have results in dozens of people becoming infected.
Existing restrictions in Attica include the closure of all cafes, bars and restaurants between midnight and 7 a.m., a limit of four on the number of people allowed to share a table at such businesses and mandatory mask wearing in all indoor public spaces.
Petsas did not elaborate on what the additional measures may entail but said the list will be compiled on Monday or Tuesday, and possibly announced on Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier on Monday, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said that additional restrictions may be imposed on specific municipal areas of the Greek capital, where and if this is deemed necessary.
“Attica comprises 5 million people – that is half of Greece – so it is obvious that we would not consider taking unnecessary horizonal measures just like that, for the entire Attica Regional Unit,” Kikilias told broadcaster Open TV.
Apart from the capital and the port of Piraeus, the Attica Regional Unit also comprises the islands of the Saronic Gulf, a small part of the Peloponnese peninsula and a few islands off the eastern Peloponnese coast, including Kythira.
“EODY [National Organization for Public Health] and our scientists are responsible for analyzing the data and the Civil Protection Authority for implementing localized measures in areas experiencing outbreaks. So, as the picture becomes clearer on a scientific level, we will be able to intervene more locally, at the municipal level, so as to limit the possibility of a local surge,” Kikilias said.