ATHENS – Staying cautious, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ decision to keep a lockdown in place until May 4 to prevent spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus means a staggered return for business openings with people eager to get out as spring warms up.
Courts and registries, that had already been operating with smaller staffs to allow for social distancing guidelines people stay at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart, will open for general business on April 27.
But small commercial shops and hairdressers will stay shut until a week later although they will be in the first wave of reopenings as the government tries to keep the economy from tanking, and hopes even for a reduced tourism season this summer.
While the World Health Organization has recommended two-week periods between openings of business sectors and public gathering places, Mitsoakis is said to want to do it in one-week intervals, with Greece showing some the lowest number of cases in the world.
The New Democracy government is also keeping in reserve a plan to impose tighter restrictions during the May Day holiday as was done during the Easter period to prevent people pent up with cabin fever from trying to flee to islands or villages or other areas.
Until the lockdown eases, measures in place still require people leaving their homes for permissible reasons such as going to supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, hospitals, doctors, walking pets or exercise to have written permission.
That is done on forms downloaded from a government site, on cell phones or by writing out one of the reasons for being outside and the time and date in case police request they be shown to prevent fines of 150 euros ($161.34) being imposed.
The government also is looking at revising how people receive text message permission after phoning the number 13033, said Kathimerini in a report how the lockdown easing will gradually unfold.
For example, once the small shops are opened, there should be an option – in addition to the current ones allowing people to go on multiple trips while out on errands or to visit a doctor, pharmacy and supermarket.
“The objective of the confinement measures is not to remain in a glass bowl, stuck in our homes,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said. “The objective is to take our lives back and win back our way of life which was temporarily deprived of us by this cunning and invisible enemy,” he said.
Government COVID-19 spokesman Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras, an infectious diseases expert, said there was a slight spike in cases as of April 24, with 55 more, bringing the nationwide total to 2,463 and four deaths, making that total 125, with the average age being 74.