ATHENS – After already saying he would tilt toward restarting an economy crushed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy government plans to pull back just tightened third lockdown health measures.
Aimed at lockdown fatigue and public disgruntlement over being required to stay home most of the time, the easing will come in the face of record numbers of cases, deaths and people on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU’s.)
Since imposing the third lockdown on Nov. 7, 2020 – too late, Mitsotakis admitted – his government has gone back and forth between making it more and less restrictive, perplexing people and leading to defiance and ignoring measures.
The government has also been slow to get private hospitals and private doctors to join the fight, most of whom have refused, leading to them possibly being forced to aid although it wasn’t said if there would be consequences if they didn’t.
The defense for letting people be out more – after that had seen cases rise – is belief that warmer and sunnier weather means they will be outdoors longer, without explaining why they then wouldn’t gather in violation of safe social distance rules.
The most likely scenario is to push the weekend curfew to 9 p.m. from the current 7 p.m. and possibly also extend it on weekdays, the paper said, and that hair and beauty salons could reopen March 22.
Also, people would again be allowed to use their cars to drive to places for exercise – that had seen parks and public areas overwhelmed with droves and brought another surge in cases, no explanation why it wouldn’t happen again, and soon.
Also under consideration, the paper said, is for outdoor archaeological sites to reopen as the government wants to reopen to tourists on May 15, hoping a slow-rolling vaccination program will pick up and slow the pandemic.
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias pleaded with pathologists, general practitioners, lung specialists and anesthesiologists in the private sector to volunteer their services to the overburdened National Health System hospitals.
He said 200 were needed but only 45 accepted the first call from a pool of some 3,00 private doctors in the country, almost all of whom have refused to offer aid, as have private hospitals reserved for the rich and people who can afford private insurance.