Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday declared a one-month partial coronavirus lockdown, shutting restaurants and other leisure activities in Athens and other major cities from next week.
“We must act now, before intensive care units buckle under the strain of lives in danger,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address.
“The virus is attacking in waves, and we need to quickly adapt.”
Greece has registered over 37,000 coronavirus cases since February, including nearly 1,700 on Friday. Accelerating from August onwards, the virus has caused 620 deaths to date.
Another 128 people are in intensive care.
For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page
The prime minister said eateries, cafes, clubs, cinemas, museums and gyms in worst-hit areas would close down from Tuesday, but retail businesses and schools would remain open, to soften the blow to the economy.
Hotels, hair salons and food delivery will also be allowed to operate.
University classes will be held remotely, and half the workforce in the private and public sectors will work from home.
“A total lockdown would hurt the economy and society,” Mitsotakis said.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
In addition to the capital, the toughest restrictions apply to most major cities in northern Greece including Thessaloniki, Larissa and Ioannina.
The rest of the country will have to abide by an overnight curfew from midnight to 5:00 am, in addition to the compulsory use of masks even outdoors, Mitsotakis said.
But in contrast to a nationwide lockdown imposed in March, movement between regions is not restricted for now, he added.
Mitsotakis said the measures were similar to those adopted in France and Germany, and were aimed at saving the Christmas shopping season.
“I wanted to avoid this message. But conditions demand it,” he said.
The government has earmarked nearly 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in support for businesses during the latest lockdown, the PM said.
The government had already declared a night curfew from 00:30 am to 0500 am in Athens, Thessaloniki and other areas on October 22.
That followed localized lockdowns in the northern regions of Kozani and Kastoria earlier this month.
Greece’s March lockdown succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus to single digits daily, but the economy gradually reopened from May onwards to salvage part of the summer tourism season that is vital to the country’s economy.
Eight killed, hundreds injured as strong earthquake hits Turkey and Greek islands
Russia’s PM visits coronavirus-hit Mount Athos in Greece
Russia quotes law of sea to calm Greek-Turkey tension in eastern MediterraneanThe dispute between Turkey and Greece over energy-rich waters in the Mediterranean should be settled on the “basis of international law,” Russian ... World News
Greek PM sees ‘imperial fantasies’ in Turkey maritime claims, wants tougher EU actionGreece urged the European Union on Wednesday to reconsider its customs union with Turkey in response to Ankara’s continued gas exploration in ... Middle East
Coronavirus: 44 pct of Greeks would snub COVID-19 vaccine, poll saysNearly one in two Greeks would skip a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, according to a poll published Sunday, with nearly 20 percent opposing masks ... Coronavirus