Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday a near-total lockdown in the most populous region of Greece until February 28 on Tuesday evening, citing a "worrying" rise in hospitalizations in Attica and in the spread of the Covid-19 variants which are more transmissible.
The new restrictions will come into effect on Thursday (February 11).
"Experience from the first wave of the pandemic, as well as from the lockdown after the Christmas holidays, shows that the faster the restrictions are applied, the faster they are lifted," he said in a televised address to the nation.
"This is the reason for my decision today: To strike the Covid-19 outbreak before it spreads, reducing overall mobility. And to give our health system time, as vaccinations will proceed," he added.
During the full lockdown in Attica – which includes Athens – all retail stores and schools will close, with the exception of supermarkets, other food stores and pharmacies. Hair salons and churches will also close their doors.
Restaurants and cafes will only be allowed to offer delivery services.
This will be the second full lockdown in the region since the start of the pandemic last year. In the first full lockdown, the government imposed restrictions for the whole country that lasted from March 23 to May 4 in a bid to stop the first wave of the virus.
Attica and the country has already been in a looser lockdown since early November 2020, with stores operating with an erratic system that ranged from click-and-collect to normal operation. Classrooms had also been allowed to operate since January, with the exception of high schools which continued with distance learning.
The prime minister's announcement came after the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) reported a jump of new infections to 1,526 on Tuesday, from 638 on Monday, of which 750 were in Attica.
Health teams conducted a total of 53,015 tests (both molecular and rapid tests) in the last 24 hours, the largest number performed in one day since the start of the pandemic.