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Politics

Greek Minister Outlines Next Steps Planned for Easing Restrictions, Reopening Market

ATHENS — Minister to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos outlined the next steps for a gradual easing of social restrictions and reopening the market, which are to be decided on this week, during an interview with the state broadcaster ERT.

Speaking late on Sunday, he said a discussion to announce specific dates will be held during the week so that the resumption of some activities can begin in early April. He said priority will be given to retail trade and education, initially, followed by hospitality in outdoor spaces later in the month.

He said the strategy for a controlled reopening of the market will be based on the good weather, vaccinations, continued protection measures and home self-testing for coronavirus. Regarding the last, he cited a Harvard study estimating that there can be a significant drop in cases and deaths if only 25 pct of a population use home tests.

In a message to main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, Skertsos called on the party "not to undermine new tools that are scientifically valid," and pointed out that Greece was still in a better comparative position than many European countries, showing that the government's measures had brought results.

He also noted that the health system was under great pressure but still holding up and that conditions will improve as the weather gets warmer and self-tests are made available, if combined with "social bubbles" and self-protection measures.

Skertsos explained that self-tests may be made mandatory for specific groups, such as teachers and school pupils, people in the hospitality and retail sector who serve the public and in courts, in order to control the spread of the virus in work spaces and education.

Those who test positive must report this on the relevant online platform and then take a second rapid test monitored by public or private healthcare body to confirm the result. If the second rapid test is also positive, they will then qualify for paid sick leave.

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