COVID-19 Soars Again in Greece, 3d Lockdown Seen Being Extended

Αssociated Press

A fisherwoman wearing a face mask against the spread of coronavirus, speaks with another woman at the port of Vathi on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS - After a second lenient lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Greece didn’t work, a third more restrictive scheme hasn’t been able to hold down the number of cases which jumped to 2,147 on Feb. 23.

That means, said Kathimerini, that the New Democracy government will almost certainly extend the closing of non-essential businesses past Feb. 28, adding more financial grief to companies closed more than half the previous 12 months.

It was the biggest number of cases since Dec. 2 when people routinely ignored or defied even a soft lockdown, mingling in public, not wearing masks or keeping safe social distances.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in a dilemma: keep a hard lockdown to save lives or go easier to save businesses, thousands of which are on the verge of going bust, thousands already having done so.

There were also 357 people on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) or more than 83 percent full, the government making no attempt as promised to commandeer private hospitals if needed.

The government’s advisory committee of doctors and scientists will also recommend, the paper said, not just extending the lockdown but making it tougher as people are still out and about and allowed to move out of their neighborhoods for exercise, which has seen near-normal street traffic too.

But the government is still said to be exploring some way of having a lockdown but letting people shop although it earlier suspended a click-and-collect plan that let consumers order goods online and pick them up outside stores.

Part of the plan under consideration, the report said, was to have customers call 13032, sending a text message to shoppers who would be notified when stores open, giving three three hours to do their purchasing then.

There was no explanation why that wouldn’t lead to people still being near each other inside stores nor whether there would be limits, the government trying to figure out some way to have both a lockdown but not a lockdown simultaneously

“At the moment we are considering technological measures, together with (Development Minister Adonis) Mr. Georgiadis and (Deputy Minister Nikos) Mr. Papathanassis, which will allow the faster reopening of retail so that the market can work,” Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis told Parapolitika FM radio.