NEWS

Holiday lockdown decision inevitable

holiday-lockdown-decision-inevitable

The extension of the strict restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic during the festive period was seen as self-evident choice for Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who chose to heed and adopt the recommendations of the committee of infectious disease specialists.

The committee was wary of easing restrictions, and was dead against such a course of action, citing the great epidemiological burden, but also the continuing pressure on the health system.

Although the decisions were made on the basis of medical data, alarming messages also emerged from statistical surveys, which suggested that if the ban on movement was lifted in tandem with the opening of retail, cases in January could exceed 10,000 per day.

An additional source of concern was the increase in cases in western Attica, where, in contrast to Thessaloniki, its large population density could render the situation uncontrollable.

The government also factored in that the arrival of the vaccine at the beginning of the year has given it greater scope and potential to continue supporting the workers and companies adversely impacted by the restrictions. 

Another factor was that the slow reduction in the number of cases and the resulting pressure on the health system essentially nullified the alternative of an accordion-type lockdown, under which the economy would open during the festive period, with austerity measures resuming in the case of a new outbreak of the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, Mitsotakis opted for a partial opening of the economy, as only hairdressers and small bookstores will operate, with retail resuming with the click-and-collect system.

One proposal that had been proposed by health experts was the possibility of opening only the “clean” areas of the country.

However, this option was not adopted as the regional units of the country with a low epidemiological burden are only 20, out of 74 in total. Moreover, the data can be extremely erratic. In addition, there were concerns that this option would have had political side effects.

As a result Greece is among the countries with the tightest measures over the holiday season, although there are fears that visits and gatherings at homes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve may lead to a new outbreak of cases.