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COVID-19 Rising, Greece Imposes Yet More Health Restrictions

Αssociated Press

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus, walk in front of a toy store in Athens, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – After another 196 cases of COVID-19 and another death, Greece's New Democracy government, scrambling to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, issued more health protocols despite signs of continuing defiance.

The upward trend has worried the government and its panel of scientific and medical experts whose advice to bring an early lockdown on March 23, gradually lifted by the week starting May 4, held down the number of cases and deaths.

While enforcement and compliance has stepped up there are still scenes where people are refusing to wear masks in supermarkets and elsewhere indoors, and not staying the required distance of 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart.

Combined with wild parties on islands and open defiance on islands and lax police enforcement on the now locked down island of Poros where 30 cases were found, the increase in cases is showing an alarming level.

Among the new measures is the cancellation of the 85th Thessaloniki International Fair that was scheduled for September 13-15.

It was also announced that passengers flying to Greece from Sweden, Belgium, Spain, the Czech Republic and The Netherlands will, as of Aug. 17, be required to show a negative test conducted within 72 hours of travel, said Kathimerini.

A negative PCR test not older than 72 hours will be required for all visitors entering via Greece’s land borders although it wasn't said if that includes Greeks returning from vacations in other countries, especially The Balkans where there have been so many cases that residents are barred from Greece.

As of Aug. 17 there will be a ceiling on the number of entrants from the land border post of Kakavia – 750 people per day will be allowed to cross without any explanation why that couldn't also increase cases in Greece.

Every public event in which attendees stand, including concerts and performances, has been suspended throughout the country and until Aug. 23 bars and restaurants will have to close in many regions and islands including Crete, Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Mykonos, Paros, Antiparos, Santorini, Rhodes, Kos, Corfu and Zakynthos.

As of Aug. 11, there were 5,749 cases with a big jump in August after the country opened to most tourists in July, apart from some like the United States and Russia where cases are nearly out of control.