As an upward trend in coronavirus infections continues – with 310 new cases reported on Tuesday, the majority of them in Attica – the government announced a raft of new restrictions for the greater Athens area.
The measures extended the mandatory use of protective face masks to all outdoor areas which draw crowds while obliging live music venues to close and restricting attendance at concerts and open-air cinemas.
The decision to impose further restrictions on Athens – where a raft of measures are already in place including a midnight curfew for bars and restaurants – came as coronavirus infections in the capital have systematically accounted for more than half of the new daily cases being reported.
Meanwhile concerns have also grown about an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units. More than 60 percent of Greek hospitals’ ICU capacity is taken, ringing alarm bells for health authorities who want to ensure the country’s health service does not find itself unable to respond to the pandemic.
Of the 310 new infections announced on Tuesday, 197 were in Attica, with just 12 detected at the country’s border entry points. The National Organization of Public Health (EODY) also announced three new deaths, pushing the toll to 313 while the total number of confirmed infections reached 13,730. The number of intubated patients jumped to 67 from the 59 reported on Monday.
The new measures for Attica, as announced by Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias, are to remain in place through September 30, when they will be reviewed. They include a 50 percent capacity limit at open-air concerts, where attendees must be seated, masks are obligatory and alcohol and smoking is forbidden. In addition, all clubs and concert halls will be closed. Cinemas will have their maximum capacity capped at 60 percent and all attendees must wear masks.
Masks are henceforth compulsory in all places of work and all open-air venues that can become crowded such as squares, bus stops, street protests and lines outside shops.
Street markets will be scaled down in size by 50 percent – with an obligatory distance of 3 meters between each stall – and the use of face masks will be mandatory for all. At cafes and restaurants, a maximum of six people will be allowed to sit at each table. Authorities are also calling on those aged over 65 to wear masks at all times.