Extension of lockdown seen all but certain

Extension of lockdown seen all but certain

With daily cases of Covid-19 spiking Tuesday to more than 2,000, the highest since December 2, and with the number of critical patients bearing down heavily on the public health system, it seems all but certain that the government will seek to extend the lockdown beyond its nominal expiry date on February 28, by a week. 

Indicatively, health authorities Tuesday announced 2,147 new coronavirus cases and 22 fatalities, while a total of 357 patients remain in intensive care. What’s more, there is growing concern that the spike in cases is concealing a new wave of the pandemic.

Kathimerini understands that, given the gravity of the situation, the committee of experts advising the government on the coronavirus is poised to propose not just an extension of the lockdown but a further tightening of restrictions.

However, the pressure to restart the economy is evident from the fact that regardless of the spike in numbers, the government is examining various mechanisms that will allow it to reopen retail as safely as possible.

To this end it is considering the use of a five-digit number, 13032, that will be used exclusively for retail. This would entail the sending of an SMS to this number by members of the public that want to make purchases when stores do open. It will give them a window of three hours to complete their shopping activities. The SMS can be sent only once once a day.

“At the moment we are considering technological measures, together with (Development Minister Adonis) Mr Georgiadis and (Deputy Minister Nikos) Mr Papathanassis, which will allow the faster reopening of retail so that the market can work,” said Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis, speaking on Parapolitika FM radio yesterday. 

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