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Society

Greece Signals Lockdown Break for Christmas, Warns Against Holiday Gatherings

December 10, 2020

ATHENS – Despite no break in the COVID-19 pandemic, Greece’s New Democracy government seems set to mostly lift – temporarily and not for restaurants, bars or taverns – a second lockdown through Christmas and the holiday season.

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said while cases are beginning to slow gradually that the health system is still struggling to cope but Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants to save the critical Christmas period for a staggering economy even as he feared easing the lockdown might bring a third wave and another lockdown later.

Hair salons, barber shops and businesses which see lesser foot traffic will probably be among the first to reopen when the government starts relaxing the restrictive measures, Alternate Development Minister Nikos Papathanasis said.

He said they would have to implement strict rules against overcrowding which some didn’t before the lockdown and as the government has found it difficult to get everyone to wear masks and stay safe social distances from each other.

Papathanasis also said that the government is considering opening more businesses in “green” regions with low infection rates and on Dec. 12 will decide whether it will let retail stores and churches open for the holidays.

Speaking after a meeting with the government’s chief public health adviser, infectious disease expert Sotiris Tsiodras, Kikilias however warned people not to have big Christmas dinners, Mitsotakis saying they would be limited to nine people.

If people let down their guard, he said, infections will soar again bringing us up against “the simple yet tough question of where we will put fellow citizens needing hospitalization,” with public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) almost overwhelmed and private hospitals not commandeered as Mitsotakis pledged he would do.

“The average stay of a patient in ICU is 15 days and the average on a ventilator is 10-11 days. These are the hard numbers from the public hospitals, which should make us ask ourselves during the holidays that are approaching, whether we will be able to cope as a society… and as a country,” Kikilias added, reported Kathimerini.

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