Government hedging its bets on next 15 days
As Greece enters the most critical phase since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the government’s decision to “partially decompress” rather than open the economy entirely is seen as the best way forward as it tries to keep the country’s finances afloat and hospitals from buckling under the pressure.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis suggested as much on Friday in Parliament, saying, “Let’s get to Easter safe.”
Three parameters are expected to play a crucial role as Easter approaches.
First, the situation that will prevail at beaches, in parks and other public spaces with the lifting of the restrictions on movement between municipalities on the weekend, starting Saturday. The move is seen as a crash test, while Mitsotakis said on Friday, “If we see overcrowding, the restrictions may return.”
A second parameter is the reopening of retail on Monday, as the the economy must work at all costs, albeit with strict rules. The government has stressed that it is very important that this does not serve as a pretext for extra travel, overcrowding and mass circumvention of measures.
The third big bet for the next 15 days, which will ultimately influence the course of the pandemic and the next steps that will be decided, is how self-testing will play out. The first tests will be available in pharmacies from next week.
As government officials have pointed out, the plan is to have mass testing initially in schools, so that they can be opened as safely as possible. The government’s goal is to be able to open high schools by April 12.
The desire of the government is not to implement the measures with “tough policing” but rather for the public to assume personal responsibility. It is also seeking to consolidate the feeling that Greece is heading toward the end of its pandemic ordeal.
This will no doubt be helped by the increasing rate of vaccinations, with Mitsotakis talking on Friday about 1.5 million vaccinations in April.