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COVID-19 Soaring, Greece Makes Masks Mandatory, Hot Spot Curfews

Αssociated Press

This photo shows a view of the empty Monastiraki square in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. Greece s government has imposed a nightly curfew in greater Athens and other areas with high infection rates as well as a mask requirement. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS – His plea for social responsibility failing, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis' government has issued more restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, masks now required everywhere and regions with jumping numbers locked down, including overnight curfews.

The tighter measures went into force after a record 935 cases on Oct. 24, along with five more deaths, Mitsotakis reluctant to order another lockdown as he did in March, fearing the faltering economy couldn't survive another hit.

The total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,992, with 564 deaths and the resurgence worrying health officials because more people had been wearing masks but the young especially are not, many not keeping safe distances from each other.

The government, however, has allowed nightclubs and taverns to keep operating until midnight even though those could be superspreader facilities with alcohol-fueled crowds in close contact.

Curfews in regions with the biggest jump in cases – Athens and the Attica prefecture are heading toward that alert level – means overnight curfews from 12:30 a.m. until 5 a.m. in those places where there's also local lockdowns.

Αssociated Press

A policeman checks documents of a driver at central Syntagma square in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

Wearing face masks is also now mandatory both indoors and outdoors and in all public services and private companies except for night-shift workers, journalists and emergencies, but workers must must be able to provide an employer's permit, or an Ergani platform certificate if freelancing.

Since Saturday morning, police patrol cars in Athens have been broadcasting the following message, in Greek, English and Arabic, said Kathimerini:

“We remind you that the use of face masks is obligatory in all outdoor spaces. Night-time curfew is now in place. People are not allowed to be outdoors between twelve-thirty midnight and five o'clock in the morning. Please protect public health; avoid crowding. We follow the instructions, we stay safe.”

Αssociated Press

This photo shows a view of the empty Syntagma square near the parliament building in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

Speaking at a TV briefing on the pandemic's progress in Greece, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias said as of Oct. 26 that the alertness level would change in 24 of 74 prefectures in Greece: 13 showed improvement while 11 were getting worse.

However, only two prefectures of Greece, Kastoria and Kozani, will be at the highest coronavirus alert, he noted, while most prefectures (58) are still classified as Level 1 or 2.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)