Easing lockdown restrictions, cautiously

Easing lockdown restrictions, cautiously

The government continued its careful relaxation of the pandemic lockdown on Wednesday by announcing that movement between municipalities in the same region will be allowed.

It also confirmed that dining in outdoor spaces will be allowed from Monday, just after Easter.

Residents will still have to send text messages announcing movement for reasons other than work for at least 15 more days, despite expectations that this measure would be rescinded.

Experts advising the government on the pandemic said that the acute phase of the third coronavirus wave is retreating but argued for caution in lifting restrictions.

Restaurants and cafes opening Monday will not be allowed to play music, Nikos Hardalias, deputy citizens’ protection minister in charge of civil protection, said on Wednesday.

Those wishing to go to restaurants and cafes will have to use the code number 6 in their SMS to the number 13033.

Officials also want to avoid excessive crowds in the coming Easter celebrations. The faithful wishing to attend church services are restricted to one person per 25 square meters indoors and one per 10 square meters outdoors – despite Church demands that the number of congregants indoors be raised – and must wear a double mask.

According to data provided by experts, the viral load is retreating for a second week in a row, with the average number of new cases per day down 15%. There has also been a slight decline in hospital check-ins, but there are still 5,300 patients being treated for the coronavirus. 

On Wednesay, health authorities announced 2,781 new cases and 63 deaths over the previous 24 hours, with 805 intubated patients.

Meanwhile, the total number of vaccinations was expected to exceed 3 million late Wednesday, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced.

The target now is to have 100,000 people vaccinated daily from next Wednesday, Kikilias said.

Authorities also started sending those aged 40-44 an SMS notifying them to book a vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine. On Saturday, the booking platform will open for those aged 45-49. By early Wednesday afternoon, more than 106,000 people in the 30-39 age group had booked an appointment and 9,142 had already been inoculated for the first time.

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