ATHENS — Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday announced fresh measures aimed at curbing a dramatic increase in coronavirus infections, including a nighttime curfew.
Starting from Saturday, a curfew will be imposed from 12:30 a.m. until 5 a.m. in areas that are classed as high risk, which includes Athens and the wider region, home to almost half of Greece’s population. The use of face masks will be mandatory outdoors and in public indoor areas.
“The coming months are going to be difficult. And since a general lockdown is not my choice, other measures are required; smarter, more targeted and eventually more effective,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address. “Now is not the time for secret parties, when this virus is having a party at the expense of our lives.”
Greece weathered the health crisis better than many other countries during the first wave of the pandemic. However, cases started rising after the reopening of borders in mid-July and rose again in late August, as holidaymakers returned from coastal areas to cities. The number of cases plateaued at around 400 per day from late September to mid October, but has more than doubled this week.
On Thursday, the authorities said there had been 882 new cases of coronavirus and 15 deaths in the past 24 hours. Around two-thirds of the intensive care beds are full and experts warn that hospitals could become overwhelmed in the next two weeks. Since the outbreak began, Greek authorities have reported 28,216 cases and 549 deaths.
The situation is particularly alarming in northern Greece, where two regions — Kastoria and Kozani — are already in lockdown as they have reached the highest level of the country’s four-tier risk assessment system.
Opposition parties have accused the ruling New Democracy government of being too lax during the country’s reopening to tourists and then losing valuable time during the summer to properly prepare the health system for the second wave.