Greece to close most bars, restaurants, cultural venues

ATHENS — Greece will close bars, restaurants and other venues in the country’s most populous areas from Tuesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Saturday.

The measures will apply in around half the country, including in northern Greece and the Attica region, where Athens is located, for a period of one month.

Schools and nurseries will remain open, but restaurants, cafés and bars must close or offer takeaway food only. Businesses such as gyms, cosmetic studios and brothels as well as cultural venues such as theaters and cinemas will also shut. Hairdressers may stay open.

A nighttime curfew — previously in place only in the hardest-hit areas — will be extended to apply nationwide from midnight to 5 a.m. Mask-wearing will be mandatory across the country in both indoor and outdoor public spaces. Teleworking is strongly recommended.

Cases in Greece, which weathered the first wave better than many European countries, began to rise gradually over the summer. Daily infections plateaued at around 400 from late September to mid-October, but more than doubled last week and almost quadrupled this week to hit a record 1,690 cases on Friday.

“It seems that we failed to tame the complacency from the collective success of the first phase,” Mitsotakis said. “If the measures work, we will be able, in early December, to live in a smoother environment.”

Experts warn that Greek hospitals could become overwhelmed in the next two weeks.

“The health system will come under pressure, with mathematical certainty,” Sotiris Tsiodras, an infectious diseases expert and the health ministry’s coronavirus spokesman, said Friday. He added that the real number of active cases in Greece is likely around three times higher than the official figures.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro HealthCare. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial. 

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