NEWS

PM says ‘almost inconceivable’ to go on second full lockdown

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It would be very difficult for Greece to go into a second lockdown to stem the rise of the new coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday, during a conversation on “Politics, Power and the Pandemic” at the 2020 Athens Democracy Forum.

“I think there is a general agreement among at least European countries that it is very difficult, almost inconceivable, to go to a second full lockdown,” he told Israeli historian and author Yuval Noah Harari, in a discussion moderated  by New York Times chief business correspondent Liz Alderman.

“We can do localised lockdowns, we use contact tracing in a much smarter way, we do much more testing, but there is still a big question mark: can we manage to live with the virus while maintaining economic normality without a full lockdown and without putting too much strain on our healthcare system? I think no-one has the answer yet, because we still have three or four very difficult months [ahead of us].”

Mitsotakis said the government is “very optimistic” that it will not need to take drastic measures. “But can anyone tell you with certainty? I think the answer is clearly no.”

Commenting about the economic fallout from the first lockdown, he said the Greek government supported both the public and private sector, as well as employees, in an effort to ease the burden of the health crisis, describing the aid provided as a “welfare state on steroids.”

According to Mitsotakis, the pandemic showed that the state was important, especially in times of crisis, and cannot be replaced by either individual free will or the markets.
 
He also noted the way the pandemic had accelerated the digital transformation and the fight against bureaucracy.

The prime minister went on to wish US President Donald Trump a speedy recovery from the virus, saying that his own message from this was the fact that the virus did not discriminate or exclude anyone.