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Lockdown Over, Spike in Greece’s COVID-19 Cases Brings New Worry

ATHENS – The lifting of a lockdown, tourists starting to come and people ignored safety measures has seen a rise in COVID-19 Coronavirus cases in Greece that set the New Democracy government to step up inspections of places people gather.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis brought his Cabinet together to talk about how to enforce the strict hygiene protocols that are widely being ignored, including the shunning of masks and gloves and people crowding together.

The move came after health authorities announced 108 new cases since June 4, the highest rate since April 23 and with cases rising after the gradual easing of stay at home conditions and the mandatory closing of non-essential businesses.

The Health Ministry has also resumed daily briefings bringing information about the pandemic that was waning fast before the new spike brought by gatherings and tourists and more business and restaurant openings.

During the cabinet meeting, which was also attended by Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras, the epidemiologist advising the government on its response, it was decided  checks will be intensified while new measures might also be imposed.

The inspections are expected to focus on bars as well as public transport and ferries. A new blanket lockdown is not expected, said Kathimerini, although there is anxiety as the airport will open June 15 to visitors from 29 countries that had similarly good records as Greece in dealing with the pandemic, and on July 1 to all tourists.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters fines issued over the long weekend were not confined to Mykonos, where restaurants and bars notoriously defy taxes and now the health measures.

He said officials will unveil “a plan to shield our tourism sector from possible imported cases of Coronavirus,” he said. “We have not finished with the coronavirus,” he said, adding that the government is “ready to intervene wherever and whenever necessary.” 

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