Mitsotakis Says Greece Ready to Start Lifting Lockdown MeasuresBy Paul Tugwell
and Sotiris Nikas
Greece is set to join the group of European countries, including Germany and Italy, that will begin easing restrictions on citizens’ movement as part of their efforts to reopen economies and restart public life.
“Today we can safely say that the measures we took paid off,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Tuesday in a nationally televised address. The country is “now more ready to move to the second phase of our plan.”
The eastern Mediterranean nation of around 11 million people has won international praise for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, with 138 deaths and just over 2,500 cases reported so far, a fraction of the toll in other European states. That gives the government confidence it can handle the transition to life after total lockdown.
Greece’s exit from quarantine will be a step-by-step process as “no one can rule out the rekindling of the threat,” while people should continue to avoid shaking hands, maintain social distancing and perhaps will need to use masks,” Mitsotakis said.
“There is no return to a pre-coronavirus reality,” the premier warned. “We are already living differently.” While the country’s crisis motto of “we stay at home” remains valid, Mitsotakis said, “we are returning but we are careful.”
In a first phase beginning May 4, Greeks will be able to shop at small retail outlets such as bookshops and sports stores or visit hairdressers and beauty salons by appointment. The rest of the retail sector will open May 11 with malls opening June 1.
Greece’s all-important tourism sector will see year-round hotels open first on June 1. Depending on when air and sea links are restored, seasonal hotels will operate from the end of June or start in early July. Churches will open their doors early in the process for personal worship, with a return to normal set for May 17.
With more than 100,000 deaths in the region, Europe has been hit hard by Covid-19 and is bracing for the worst recession in living memory. The size of the fall in output for the Greek economy in 2020 will range from 5% to 10% based on the current situation, according to Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.
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