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Greece Bans Gatherings, Demonstrations of Over 100 People

Changing of the Greek Presidential Guard at Syntagma, Athens. Credit: Wikipedia

Greece announced on Monday it is banning large gatherings in public and private places in order to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The ban, which became effective as of 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning, will be in effect until February 1, by order of the head of the Hellenic Police (ELAS).

The measure, announced by ELAS chief Michalis Karamalakis, prohibits more than 100 people from gathering at any given time in any private or public setting.

The measure seeks to discourage gatherings like large parties and demonstrations that have the potential of becoming super-spreader events.

The announcement added: “This is not related to any planned rally, and it also does not concern the presence of citizens in shops, stores, etc.”

“This is a suggestion of the National Committee for Public Health Protection, which in order to formally come into force, as provided by current legislation, requires the issuance of a decision by the Chief of the Hellenic Police.”

Violations of the ban carry a fine of 5,000 euros for businesses or organizations responsible for hosting or calling such a gathering, 3,000 euros for individual organizers and 300 euros for each attendee to such a gathering.

Karamalakis said the decision to reintroduce the ban until the start of next month at least stems from the risk of a fresh rise in infections if further restrictions are lifted.

Opposition reacts

The announcement was blasted by main opposition party SYRIZA which claimed the ban was a pretext for repression.

In a statement on Tuesday it said that measures to protect and avoid overcrowding can not be “a pretext for the government for arbitrary and anti-democratic decisions.”

“It treats the pandemic not as a matter of public health but as an opportunity for repression,” it added.

Spike in Covid cases on Monday

A total of 436 Covid-19 cases were diagnosed in Greece on Monday, 102 more than the 334 cases that were recorded in the country one day earlier, on Sunday.

Tragically, 25 people with the virus passed away in the country over the past 24 hour period, which is just one less than those recorded yesterday.

Currently, 286 patients with Covid-19 are now intubated in Greece, six fewer than those who were intubated in the country on Sunday.

A large portion of Monday’s cases were diagnosed in the areas surrounding Greece’s two largest urban centers — Athens and Thessaloniki.


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