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Politics

Mitsotakis’ Dilemma: Keep COVID-19 Lockdown or Let Stores Open

ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is facing the call of whether to keep a second COVID-19 in place – further crippling staggering businesses – or let them open, which could see the virus spread.

He admitted he waited too long to bring the closing of non-essential businesses on Nov. 7, which has been extended until at least Jan. 18, because he wanted to balance saving lives against the economy.

Since then there has been a vacillating, going back and forth between being tough with health protocols and backing off, including allowing the Greek Church to be exempt for Epiphany Day celebrations.

Now his New Democracy government is reportedly set to allow a partial easing to let retailers return to the click-and-collect method which lets shoppers make purchases online and make a reservation for pickup outside stores.

Government spokesman Christos Tarantilis told reporters the cost of the lockdown is “around 3 billion euros, if not more,” or about $3.64 billion, as the state coffers are running low after providing 17.5 billion euros ($21.24 billion) to keep businesses from collapsing and pay laid-off workers.

Despite the leniency of the second quasi-shutdown, infections are beginning to gradually lessen, down to 599 on Jan. 14 from 866 two days earlier and the easing decision will be made based on the epidemiological data, he said.

Also on the table for consideration is letting hairdressers and bookstores admit customers on a reservation basis to prevent overcrowding, but the government is  allowing masses to shop at open air markets.

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