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COVID-19 Lockdown Easing More, Greece Will End SMS Permission

ATHENS – In a sign that an already eased lenient lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 is going to end, Greeks soon won't even need permission to be out of their homes because most of them already are.

The  system of applying for permission to leave home during the lockdown by sending a coded SMS to the 13033 hotline will soon be abolished, Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis said.

“We are very close” to stopping that method in which people were required to send a text to a government platform indicating why they would be out with no indication any were prohibited.

He told TV station ANT1 that it's going to end because people as of May 3 will be allowed to go to restaurants, only for outdoor dining, which could see overwhelming numbers of text messages for that use otherwise.

People have already been allowed to shop in limited numbers in stores or online and pick up goods outside businesses, and even malls have opened for business despite the pandemic lingering and vaccinations behind schedule. 

On the other hand, the time for the abolition of the SMS for citizens' movements has not yet come but it could happen within the next few days if the vaccination rate accelerates, noted Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis in an interview on SKAI television on Tuesday (Holy Tuesday).

Regarding restaurant opening hours and the restriction that they close at 23:00, the minister explained that people are in any case required to be home by 23:00 due to curfew, while those working in restaurants will be exempted from the curfew restrictions.

He said that the turnover of the market was not good in the first few days of its opening but shot up at the weekend and one of the proposals submitted to the scientists' committee was the abolition of the "click inside" measure, but this has not been accepted yet.

Georgiadis said that the government's aim is to do away with the SMS for movements when the country opens up for tourism but this will depend on the vaccinations. He pointed out the importance of vaccination and urged the citizens to get vaccinated, adding that the vaccine was the only solution, in order to get rid of quarantines and sms restrictions.

Referring to those who do not want to get vaccinated, he said that he respects their personal right but that this action "must be judged and is a case of complete social irresponsibility…With this action you place others at risk …those refusing to get vaccinated are morally unacceptable," he said but he underlined that vaccination can't be made mandatory.

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