ATHENS – Otherwise bitter rivals, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and major opposition Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras were to join in a video link on March 16 to urge Greeks to stay at home to help prevent the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Mitsotakis’ New Democracy government has imposed strict measures in part but not moved for a total lockdown of the country as has happened in Italy and Spain despite warnings from health professionals and academics the virus will spread unless he does.
The Stay at Home call will include a briefing on the spread of the virus and what’s being done to stop it, while Mitsotakis will give Tsipras the opportunity to issue his own message on what should be done after the Leftist leader had criticized what the government did.
Mitsotakis will make similar calls to other party leaders, avoiding the photo opportunity meet-and-greet handshakes that are now being shunned as well, and with advice that people should stay at least two meters, or some six feet apart.
The newly sworn-in President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoullou, whose ceremony was held without the usual fanfare or close greetings, went to Facebook to urge Greeks to follow preventive measures with a prosecutor already warning those who don’t will be prosecuted as criminals.
“The only way to protect our loved ones and our fellow citizens is to stay away from them,” wrote Sakellaropoulou, who was sworn in to a five-year term on March 13 as Greece, too, entered dire straits.
“We faithfully follow, both collectively and as individuals, the directives of the scientists and the state authorities,” she said, adding that she is as much as possible while still trying to fulfill her mostly symbolic duties if she can.
She ends her post in an optimistic mood. “We will succeed. With discipline and prudence, composure and optimism, we will succeed.” Despite those calls, there have already been dozens of arrests for people violating some measures, including one in the city of Ioannina where a test preparatory school in defiance of the law and reports that some people with the virus who were told to stay at home were out in public around Patra, the country’s third-largest city in the west of Greece, which has been hard hit.