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Politics

Petsas: Greece Heading toward a Gradual Resumption of Social and Economic Activity

ATHENS – "We are on a path that gradually leads to the resumption of social and economic activity," government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said on Monday during the regular government press briefing, referring to the reopening of the next wave of businesses, retail outlets and services but "always with specific rules of operation regarding the number of individuals in each area and the distances that need to be observed."

He stressed that "as of today, May 11, about a third of the workers and businesses that were suspended have returned to their work and school pupils in their final year have returned to schools. University entrance exams will start on June 15. The thoughts of all of us are with those children who are waging this battle in unprecedented conditions."

He explained that, as regards schools, larger classes will be split into two and the students will go into school in rotation, so that there are never more than 15 in each classroom and there can always be a distance of 1.5 metres between them.

Petsas also noted that 70 pct of civil servants have returned to work, while observing all the necessary measures indicated by the Infectious Diseases Commission. He said their arrival at work has been staggered in order to avoid overcrowding on public transport.

However, he also mentioned that travel to and from the islands will be permitted from Monday for the owners or staff of island businesses that have been allowed to resume operation, provided those travelling present supporting documents from their employer or a signed statement, in the case of the self-employed.

In this second step towards the new normality, Petsas stressed, "we believe that, as has been the case so far, individual responsibility and collective maturity will prevail."

"It is the decision of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to build a health system that will be among the model systems in Europe," the government spokesperson said. "The aim is to quickly reach the European average in terms of intensive care units," he added.

Petsas stated that the country had already gone up from 565 ICUs 2.5 months ago to more than 1,000 at present, while the effort was continuing.

At the same time, he referred to significant donations of materials and funds to assist this effort: "To date, we have received donations from 865 agencies, organisations and individuals, but also from countries such as the People's Republic of China and the United Arab Emirates."

Petsas said that donations have already exceeded 89 million euros, of which 40 concern medical equipment, 24.2 million euros concern personal protective equipment and another 12.5 million euros were deposited in banks.

In addition, 226 agencies, organisations and individuals have expressed their intention to donate around 8.8 million euros, and the relevant procedures are underway.

The government spokesperson made a special reference to "the setting up of the Recovery Fund, to provide funding, mainly through grants, to jointly address the challenges to the economies of the Member States of the European Union."

Regarding the support of the unemployed, workers and businesses, Petsas stressed that "it is the will of the government that no one will be left without help."

He also noted that the prime minister "has made the issue of unaccompanied refugee minors a personal priority." A European relocation plan has already been drawn up following coordinated efforts to transfer a total of 1,600 unaccompanied refugee children to EU member-states, he said.

This morning, a group of 16 unaccompanied refugee children and 34 adults being reunified with their families left Athens for the United Kingdom.

 

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