In a televised address to the nation on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a full lockdown, starting from 06.00 on Monday, aimed at curbing the further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The ban applies to “all unnecessary movement by citizens,” Mitsotakis explained, stressing the need for “bold and timely initiatives.”
Mitsotakis thanked the majority of Greeks for acting responsibly and self-isolating to avert the spread of the virus. “But I will not allow a frivolous few to undermine the safety of the majority because a few irresponsible people can harm thousands of responsible citizens,” he said following reports of many Greeks leaving cities for their villages over the weekend.
“We have to protect the common good, our health,” Mitsotakis said, noting that the lockdown is “perhaps the last step of an organized, democratic state.” “We should not reach the point of having to choose who lives and who dies,” he added.
Under the new rule, only those going to or from their workplace, shopping for food or medicine, visiting a doctor or pharmacy, taking brief exercise or walking their pet will be allowed to leave their homes. People returning to their permanent places of residence will also be exempt, he said, as will those who are unable to do banking transactions online or have serious family obligations.
In a press conference later on Sunday, government officials clarified that, under the new restrictions, citizens planning to leave the house must inform authorities of the reason for their movements. They have three options: either filling in a special form on the government website forma.gov.gr (link in Greek), sending an SMS to the number 13033 (free of charge) or explaining their reason in a signed personal declaration that can be written on a simple piece of paper.
Police will be out in force from today to ensure that the restrictions are being observed and to issue fines of 150 euros for each offense. All citizens must carry police identity cards or passports.
Just before the premier’s speech, the Health Ministry announced 94 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 624, with deaths rising to 15. Of those infected with the virus, 124 are hospitalized and 34 in critical condition, the ministry said, adding that the average age of those hospitalized is 64 years old and of the dead 77.
Meanwhile there are concerns about the healthcare system’s ability to cope. One worry is that the frequency with which doctors, nurses and administrative staff at hospitals are testing positive for the virus is growing, with dozens positive for Covid-19 and more than 300 in isolation.
This article was originally published at ekathimerini.com.