A resumption of activities such as outdoor dining and countrywide travel will take place after Easter, provided there is no surge in the spread of the pandemic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced in a televised appearance on Wednesday.
Mitsotakis acknowledged that the number of new coronavirus cases has stabilized “at a high level” and that the majority of patients now being intubated had not been vaccinated, pleading with his audience to get inoculated as soon as possible.
Mitsotakis made it clear that the customary Easter exodus of city dwellers to the countryside and their family villages will not be allowed, for a second consecutive year.
But, on Easter Monday, May 3, restaurants, bars and cafes will be allowed to operate – but patrons will have to sit outside. A week later, on May 10, elementary and junior high schools will reopen and, on May 15, domestic travel will be allowed again, coinciding with the launch of the tourist season, which the government is eager, even desperate, to see succeed, even more so than last year.
Also, the curfew will be shortened to 6 hours daily, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., from the current eight (9 p.m. – 5 a.m.).
Self-testing will be a major part of this opening: It will be mandatory for employees in the catering sector, for students and for unvaccinated visitors. Mitsotakis cited vaccinations, self-testing and the warmer weather as the country’s “big weapons” that will make the reopening possible.
Easter celebrations will be slightly more relaxed than last year: There is still a limit on the number of people that can attend Sunday’s traditional festive dinner in one location – 12 from two families if it is held outside, nine if it is inside. Also, the traditional Easter vigil will culminate at 9 p.m. on Saturday instead of midnight. Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said attendees at church services must wear a double mask.
On Wednesday, 3,015 new coronavirus cases were registered, along with 86 deaths, while 831 patients were intubated. The National Health System is still under pressure, which has led to a 20-day extension in the requisition of private clinics.
The main leftist opposition SYRIZA party said the government had finally followed its recommendations, although it still considers the reopening too slow, while socialist KINAL criticized Mitsotakis for what it sees as his inconsistency.