NEWS

PM to announce new restrictions as cases keep climbing

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Coronavirus

With the number of confirmed new infections of the coronavirus breaking another daily record Friday, reaching 1,690, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to announce a fresh batch of restrictions on Saturday morning. 

The continuous rise in cases drove the total number to 37,196 Friday, while five new deaths saw the tally of fatalities rise to 620. The trend has prompted mounting concern over the pressure on Greece’s health system, given that as early as the middle of the week, 100% of intensive care unit beds were occupied at hospitals in Western Macedonia, while in Athens and Thessaloniki the figure rose to more than 60%. 

With restaurants and cars considered primary sources of transmission, the prevailing scenario until Friday regarding the new measures was that establishments serving food and drinks in areas designated as high-risk (orange, level 3), which includes Athens, should close earlier, at 9 p.m. In turn the traffic ban would also take effect earlier, at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., rather than the current 12.30 a.m.

This measure, however, is seen as having the disadvantage that the shorter the opening hours of bars and restaurants, the greater the problem with overcrowding.

In this case, a solution under consideration is the operation of such establishments only outdoors. Kathimerini understands that another scenario on the table is the complete shutdown of restaurants/bars for 15 days. In this latter case the traffic curfew would remain at 12.30 a.m.

What is also being considered is that Greece should be divided into just two zones rather than the current four. At the moment, the alert system outlines four levels based on the rate of transmission of the virus in any given area: 1) green indicating a state of preparedness; 2) yellow for monitoring; 3) orange for increased monitoring, and 4) red for a state of increased risk.

Mitsotakis is expected to also refer to restrictions on movements between regional units and announce the mandatory use of masks throughout the country, indoors and outdoors, as well as the extension of teleworking to 50% and universal distance learning for university students.

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