Caught between a rock and a hard place, with an unrelenting pandemic and growing pressure on the economy, the government is reportedly mulling “smart ways” to reduce the viral load so as to enable retail to reopen after March 15 with the necessary safety precautions.
The sense of urgency has been hammered home by financial staff that insist retail must be opened at all costs within the next 15 days, as state resources that are keeping the economy afloat during the lockdown are being depleted. However, experts have insisted that for retail to reopen after March 15, the viral load must be reduced substantially, entailing an even harder lockdown over the next fortnight.
At the moment the biggest cause of dispersion is domestic gatherings, which can easily be arranged by using the number 6 category for exercise when sending a text message to leave one’s home. With this in mind a “smart” measure that is being considered is to allow only movement on foot with number 6.
Since shops remain closed and there are no other reasons – other than work and emergencies – to justify traveling from one municipality to another, this measure could, it is hoped, reduce movement.
However, the measure also has its disadvantages, as in areas where there are no parks or recreational areas, residents will find themselves significantly limited. Whatever is decided, the question is whether this measure can pay off by March 16, when retail is scheduled to open.
At the same time, the number 13032 is already ready for use by consumers to shop. What remains to be clarified is how exactly it will be used and whether people will be able to go shopping for two or three hours. The Development Ministry favors three hours while others back a two-hour window, which they say will benefit small neighborhood stores.
Overall tighter measures are being considered for the entire country, apart from Attica, which has seen a relentless surge of Covid cases in recent weeks. Kathimerini understands that the picture was very worrying for Thessaloniki on Tuesday, where the viral load increased sharply compared to last week.
Meanwhile it should be considered a given that the policing for the existing measures will be increased.
Health authorities on Tuesday announced 2,353 new coronavirus infections, a record number for 2021, while 23 people died from the disease. The total number of intubated patients rose further to 422 from 406 on Monday,