ATHENS – Greece's New Democracy government, which held down the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths with a March lockdown, has seen them spiraling almost out of control again with record numbers and will impose more health restrictions.
There were 293 cases reported Aug. 27, the month a catastrophe as people had defied requirements to wear masks and stay at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart while tourists allowed to enter starting in July to prop up the economy brought more infections with them.
That came after two days when cases eased off, bringing hopes that the pandemic, now in its sixth month, was starting to wind down with the autumn flu season on the horizon compounding fears.
Of the new cases, 22 came from tests of people entering at border points and as tourists and Greeks were returning on ferries from holidays with the summer season beginning to close, after disappointing numbers of foreign visitors.
Unable to keep people from gathering at bars, restaurants, and with wild parties in villas on islands, especially Mykonos, the government ordered masks be worn in more public places as well as in schools when they reopen Sept. 7 or Sept. 14.
Stricter checks are also coming on nursing and retirements homes, after clusters were found in Asvestochori and Evosmos, both near Thessaloniki.
Greek police are conducting scores of thousands of checks for violators, 50,000 in one day earlier, issuing fines of 150 euros ($177.52) to individuals and up to 10,000 euros ($11,834.65) for bars, clubs or other establishments that stay up past a midnight curfew, and closed some for several days.
Officials from the National Organization of Public Health (EODY) will conduct regular inspections, while the government is mulling an increase in fines for offenses said Kathimerini.
Despite the vast number of cases that keep rising, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has ruled out talk so far of a second lockdown, needing to keep the economy going to save the year.