It came to light on Monday that Greek citizens had sent a total of one million SMS messages to the state on Sunday, letting the authorities know that they were headed out amidst the lockdown for some much-needed recreation outdoors.
The new coronavirus lockdown, which took effect at 6 AM Saturday morning, already appeared to be a bit of a grind by Sunday, and many took to the streets and parks to walk or engage in other outdoor activity and get some much-needed fresh air.
After it was revealed that this many messages were sent, just after 9 PM on Sunday — in a nation of approximately ten million — government spokesman Stelios Petsas had some harsh words of reprimand for his fellow citizens.
Calling their acts a “circumvention” of the intent of the lockdown, which is to severely curtail movement in an effort to head off a disturbing spike in coronavirus numbers, Petsas warned the nation of worse measures to come if the public continues to flaunt the lockdown restrictions.
“This circumvention will be met with controls that will be extensive and harsh. We call on everyone, instead of paying fines, to follow the instructions in order to get out of the lockdown faster,” he said during Monday’s press briefing.
However, the government spokesman noted that if Greek citizens follow the new strictures more closely, no new measures will have to be imposed on the country.
Greece’s Deputy Minister of Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias, announced last week that the fines for breaking the coronavirus measures have now doubled.
It had been earlier noted by Panagiotis Stampoulidis, Greece’s Secretary General of Commerce and Consumer Protection, that there is no specific limit on the number of SMS messages sent to 13033.
Still, the system is capable of identifying the mobile phone numbers which send such text messages allowing for citizens to get out of the house for state purposes. It is possible, hw warned, that the system can indeed tell the user “no,” effectively denying outside trips for those who abuse the system.
In an interview with Greek radio station ANT1, Stampoulidis said “There is no limit as a process, but if the system sees that you move many times”, that is when problems might occur for those who take advantage of the ability to go outdoors and leave home.
The Secretary General also reminded Greek citizens that if they do not receive a reply after texting to 13033, allowing them to leave home, they must keep sending the message until they do get a positive response.
The lack of a response may be due to the large number of calls received from a particular area, and citizens must keep trying until they do receive the official OK to go out and about, Stampoulidis said.