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Greece set for 2nd nationwide lockdown as Covid cases jump

The Greek government has announced a new nationwide lockdown – the country’s second to date in the pandemic – due to the “exponential growth” of coronavirus cases over the last week.

“I opt to take drastic measures sooner rather than later,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address on Thursday. “I will not put the lives of our citizens at risk.”

Nearly 10,000 Covid-19 cases were registered in five days, the PM said, adding: “We saw a significant increase in hospital admissions, in patients in ICUs, a bad ratio of admissions and discharges.”

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File photo: Athens, Greece on October 31, 2020 © REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Severe Covid-19 local lockdowns for Greece, residents required to text authorities before leaving home

The new restrictions are due to take effect from Saturday, and all unnecessary movement will be prohibited. People will have to notify authorities by email or SMS on their movements, which are limited to trips to work or visiting a doctor or someone who requires care. They will also be allowed to leave home to purchase food or medicine, exercise or walk their dog.

The government decided to leave kindergartens and primary schools open, but secondary schools will have to introduce distance learning.

Retail businesses will be shut, with the exception of supermarkets and pharmacies, and Athens pledged support for those who will be affected by the new lockdown. “Priority is [protecting] the most vulnerable ones,” Mitsotakis said.

Greece has reported fewer cases than other European states due to the first nationwide lockdown it imposed in February. Authorities started to gradually lift restrictions in May.

However, the country has seen a surge in infections since early October and has been reimposing local curbs. Chief government scientific advisor Sotiris Tsiodras said on Thursday that the resurgence of the virus was “particularly aggressive.”

The opposition Syriza party slammed the government for failing to prepare for the second wave and support the health system and businesses.

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