As COVID-19 Cases Soar, More Greeks Want Lockdown Lifted Now

ATHENS – More than one-third of Greeks want the New Democracy government to ease or lift a lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 even as cases, deaths and people on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU's) rise.

A survey the firm Pulse for SKAI TV showed growing pandemic fatigue in the populace with non-essential businesses closed almost five months and more than half the previous year and the economy shrinking.

The poll conducted on March 26-28 showed that 35 percent of respondents said an “immediate relaxation” of the general lockdown is the “the best thing to do about the general lockdown” – compared to 24 percent before, said Kathimerini.

Discontent over an even lenient lockdown that has seen people flocking in the streets and near-normal traffic has even boiled over into protests and rage such as a furious demonstration in the neighborhood of Nea Smyrni where people angry over alleged police brutality and handing out fines turned into a riot.

Another 34 percent of people said that a “small extension (of the lockdown) and review of data” is needed before any easing is allowed, while only 17 percent said the lockdown should go on as long as needed, but both numbers falling.

The government is planning to reopen schools on April 5 despite warnings from doctors, backed by 30 percent of respondents while 42 percent want stores to reopen, with that limited to a small sector so far including hair and nail salons.

Only 14 percent though are in favor of letting people travel between municipalities and regions which is on the table for consideration by the government which wants to get the economy going again as fast as possible.

The inability to rein in the pandemic has given the major opposition and former ruling SYRIZA a chance to take more shots at the government with Leftist leader Alexis Tsipras saying that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis must find a way to keep the country locked down for safety but the economy open for revenues.

Only 47 percent of people now believe the government is handling the battle against COVID-19 well, with doctors also complaining that Mitsotakis has not, as vowed, to use private hospitals to help overwhelmed public hospitals.

But 62 percent indicated that Tsipras was being an opportunist in attacking the government, showing how deep the divide is as well as contradiction, only 30 percent thinking he's right to do so.

The survey showed that New Democracy holds a 37-25 percent lead over SYRIZA with all other parties in Parliament irrelevant and no standing, the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) third with only 7 percent.

It was followed by the KKE Communists in their usual place with 5.5 percent, which has changed little for decades, then the ultra-populist Greek Solution at 4.5 percent and the leftist MeRA25 on the bubble at 3 percent, the level needed to get into Parliament in elections.

Smaller parties outside Parliament mustered a total of 7.5 percent, while those who said they were undecided amounted to 10.5 percent, making them unable to affect the political landscape.

Mitsotakis' deference to Turkey during a European Union meeting which backed off sanctions he had once insisted upon before pulling them back found only 41 percent thought he was right to do so, and 39 percent opposed.

He has reached out to new US President Joe Biden, which said he was on Greece's side but only 32 percent of Greeks believed that and 32 percent said they were doubtful that he would.


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