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Politics

Greek Lawmakers Will Debate COVID-19 Pandemic Response

September 7, 2020

ATHENS – Six months into a seemingly unstoppable COVID-19 pandemic, Greece's Parliament will take up a review of the New Democracy government's response that won plaudits around the world but was disparaged by its rivals, led by the major opposition former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.

Since a 10-week lockdown began being lifted week-by-week starting May 4 and allowing tourists into the country starting in July, a second wave of Coronavirus has resurged, seeing cases and deaths soar in August, continuing into September.

The discussion was proposed by the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Fofi Gennimata, which is politically irrelevant but it has set the stage for what's expected to be head butting between the government and SYRIZA.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, after being a hard liner on closing non-essential businesses and following the advice of a panel of doctors and scientists in imposing health protocols, has taken a more lenient approach in allowing tourists in a bid to get the economy going again.

Foreign visitors have been responsible for only about 10 percent of the new cases, the rest brought almost exclusively by people ignoring or defying requirements to wear masks and keep a safe social distance of at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart from each other.

There have been scores of thousands of inspections but few reports of businesses being heavily fined or closed, even on the notorious island of Mykonos where wild parties made it a hot spot for COVID-19.

Geneticist Emmanouil Dermitzakis from the University of Geneva told Kathimerini that the situation in Greece is “stable but critical,” and that the number of daily cases has stabilized at around 200 following a sharp increase in early August “which had worried us.” 

The biggest obstacle, he said, is to break the chain of infection between young people and older citizens who are at greater risk, many young saying they can't catch the virus because it's a disease of the old.

The government is also anxious about the reopening of schools on Sept. 14 as all 

students and teachers will be required to mask up and desks pushed further apart to keep students from getting too close to each other.

The government said if there are cases in schools that only certain areas would be segregated but that closing them is still on the table if the outbreak is severe enough for that.

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