Ahead of Friday’s relevant announcements by the government, the chances that retail stores will open sooner rather than later appear slim after the committee of infectious disease experts sounded the alarm Thursday over the unrelenting pressure on the health system.
“It is certain that we will not go to the opening as many had imagined,” said government spokesman Stelios Petsas. “Cases are not falling yet, ICUs are not decongested to the degree we would like, and scientists are very wary of any further opening,” he said.
Echoing similar sentiments, State Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis said that “the de-escalation of cases is not such as to justify the opening of the market,” adding that announcements regarding the opening of retail stores will be conservative at best.
Their comments Thursday came as health authorities bemoaned that the number of intubated patients in intensive care units is decreasing at a frustratingly slow pace. More specifically, there were 571 intubated patients, compared to 578 the day before Thursday and 596 on December 1. There were 207 patients in ICUs when the second lockdown began last month. The highest daily number (622) was reached on December 3.
What is expected Friday is that hairdressers and bookstores will open, while retailers will operate in the form of online ordering and collections from the store, without customers entering the stores. This will apply to all shops that provide this service, except large department stores. What remains to be seen is whether there will be any geographical variation depending on the epidemiological burden.
As for churches, a symbolic opening is expected on Christmas and on Epiphany on January 6 with all the necessary protection measures, but nothing more than that.