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Society

Greece’s COVID-19 Lax Second Lockdown Not Working Fast Enough

November 23, 2020

ATHENS – COVID-19 fatigue, students going out and partying, lack of enforcement and too many businesses and schools allowed to stay open rendered ineffective a second lockdown aimed at slowing the Coronavirus pandemic in Greee.

Health measures worked too slowly to help thousands of people who were infected, died, or had to be put into overwhelmed Intensive Care Units (ICU's) at public hospitals, the state slow to commandeer private facilities.

Despite that worrying trend, authorities said they believe the number of clinging cases will start to subside, if not fast enough, the second wave catching the New Democracy government off guard.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis admitted he waited too long to bring a second lockdown, worried about the effect it would have on businesses teetering after a first 10-week lockdown in the spring.

Still, there are differences among health experts as to when the cases will start to slow after often surpassing 3,000 daily, spiking suddenly in October as many people then weren't wearing masks or staying a safe social distance away from each other.

Despite doubling the number of ICU units and ventilators during the eight-month pandemic, public hospitals were struggling to cope with the near tsunami resurgence, COVID-19 rising because so many people were still going out during a kind of quasi-lockdown. 

Also, the advent of colder weather which allows the virus to spread more faster was a factor, unlike in the spring when it began to turn warmer and almost everyone stayed home except for permissible missions such as going to supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, doctors and for exercise or walking pets.

Both local and state agencies and law enforcement in some cases didn't enforce the measures, said Kathimerini, especially in Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city where college students spread it faster with their behavior.

The second lockdown almost certainly won't be lifted on Dec. 1 as the government said it would as all the indicators show it won't be safe enough, the extended closing of non-essential businesses crippling the Christmas season.

Authorities now turned to stricter enforcement and monitoring a curfew that runs from 9 p.m.-5 a.m. That came only after so many people weren't following health protocols, however.

In Thessaloniki, where most cases appeared, an 18-year-old university student was given a six-month suspended sentence and fined 3,000 euros ($3,564) for hosting her birthday party and six guests were fined 300 euros ($356.40) each.

Health authorities announced 1,498 new coronavirus cases on Nov. 23, with 103 deaths, five less than the record set the day before. There were by then 91,619, with 1,630 deaths and counting.

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