Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday evening that there will be a new near-total coronavirus lockdown in the Attica region. The most populous area of Greece will be under these extra restrictions until Sunday, February 28.
The new measures come after spikes in the number of coronavirus infections recently, with 1,526 announced on Tuesday along with what the PM called a “worrying” rise in hospitalizations in the region.
The presence of the new Covid-19 variants, which are more easily transmissible, in Attica, was another reason leading to the draconian measures.
The new restrictions will be implemented on Thursday, February 11.
“The faster restrictions are applied, the faster they are lifted”
Prime Minister Mitsotakis stated in his address to the nation “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.
“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,” the PM added.
As part of the new restrictions, all retail establishments, as well as all schools, will close once more, with the exception of supermarkets and other foods stores, and pharmacies. Hair salons and churches will also be forced to close their doors once again.
All restaurants and cafes in Attica will only be allowed to offer delivery services; there will be no “click-away” or curbside, service.
The move comes as the second full lockdown in the region since the start of the pandemic last year, although there have been varying degrees of restrictions in place for the past year.
First lockdown from March to May
The first full lockdown, which was the most draconian of all, the government imposed restrictions that lasted from March 23 to May 4 on the entire country in a bid to stop the first wave of the virus. That was considered quite successful, and the country opened up to tourists on July 1 of 2020.
Since that time, the nation has experienced a steady rise in the number of infections.
The capital region, along with the rest of Greece, has been dealing with tightening restrictions since early November of 2020, with stores operating sometimes normally and at other times being forced to offer only curbside service.
Elementary schools had opened once again in January, but high schools had been shuttered, with pupils forced to learn via distance learning. The government had initially ruled that high schools would open again nationwide on February 1 but this did not occur in the “red zones,” including Attica, where the rate of contagion was high.
Health authorities in Greece announced that they had conducted a total of 53,015 coronavirus tests (both molecular and rapid) in the last day; this constitutes the largest number of tests performed in one day since the very beginning of the pandemic.
888-case increase over Monday’s numbers
A total of 1,526 cases of Covid-19 were diagnosed in Greece on Tuesday, 888 more than the 638 cases that were recorded in the country just one day earlier, on Monday.
Alarming health officials, a great number of Tuesday’s 1,526 cases were diagnosed in Attica, where 705 Covid-19 diagnoses were recorded.
Due to the substantial transmission rate in Attica, and particularly in the center of Athens, where 206 cases of the virus were identified Tuesday, government officials decided there was no option other than to institute another lockdown.
In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, a total of 174 cases were identified in the last 24 hours.