Greece will loosen some lockdown restrictions on February 1, letting secondary schools reopen for the first time in more than two months after signs that the spread of Covid-19 infections has stabilised, officials said on Friday.
The country, in lockdown since early November due to a spike in infections, has seen pressure on its public health system ease with infections receding. It reopened primary schools and kindergartens earlier this month.
Speaking at a regular press briefing on the developments with the pandemic, Education Minister Niki Kerameus said the decision came after a unanimous proposal by the committee of exoerts advising the government.
The minister said said all safety precaution will be taken, including the mandatory use of masks and all other measures. In addition, sampling checks will be carried out by teams of the National Public Health Organization (EODY) and breaks will be scheduled to avoid overcrowding.
In regions with high viral loads, only junior high schools will open, while senior high schoolers will continue with distance learning.
Kerameus also said cram schools will remain closed at present.
Teachers and students over 16 years old can now request a free coronavirus test, as a preventive measure, at edu.testing.gov.gr.
At the same time, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias said the overnight curfew (9 p.m. – 5 a.m.), the SMS outing permits and the obligatory wearing of face masks at all indoor and outdoor public spaces were extended to Monday, February 1.
The maximum number of passengers in taxis now goes up to 2 (besides the driver), from the current 1.
The additional restrictions at the regions of Argolis, the local communities of Anthili in the municipalities of Lamieon and Paleokastro at the Sitia-Lasithi municipalities in Crete will be lifted on Monday.
Extra measures, however, will take effect at a Roma community in the Distio municipality, at the Kimi-Aliveri municipality, Evia, he added, as of Saturday January 23 and until Monday February 1.
The current stricter lockdown in the regions of Viotia and Lesvos, the municipalities of Sparta and Eordea, the community of Krokos in the Kozani municipality, and the municipalities of Siatista, in Kozani were extended to February 1.
The same applies for the extra measures in Aspropyrgos municipality in West Attica, and Acharnes municipality in East Attica. In Acharnes, news cases went up to 175 from the 166 registered there last week, Hardalias said.
Game hunting and fishing are also prohibited for another week, except in the regions of Evros, Rodopi and Xanthi, where the hunting of wild boar will be allowed in the context of preventing the spread of African swine fever, he noted.