Extreme measures taken by European countries under the pretext of the pandemic are returning, after an apparent reduction in restrictions.
Athens will go into total lockdown on Thursday at least until the end of February, while France extends the state of health emergency until June 1. In the Greek capital, schools that have only been open for two weeks, after a two-month closure, will close again, along with churches and shops that are not considered – by the authorities – essential.
Instead, supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies remain open. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday the establishment of a full lockdown in the capital Athens to combat an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
The new restrictions in Athens, where half the country’s population of 11 million live, include the closure of non-essential shops and schools from Feb. 11 to the end of the month, Mitsotakis said in a televised address to the nation.
“Because of the new data (on increasing the number of infections), I take responsibility for introducing additional measures to protect public health,” said Prime Minister Mitsotakis.
“From Thursday to February 28, shops and schools will be closed,” he said, noting “the increase in the number of hospitalizations in Attica and the emergence of strains of the virus that accelerate contamination.” ERT public television announced that schools, churches and all shops, except pharmacies, supermarkets and gas stations, will also close.
Greek authorities on Tuesday announced 1,526 infections with the new coronavirus, more than double those recorded the day before, half of them in the greater part of Athens. However, the number of COVID-19-associated deaths in Greece is 6,017 since the beginning of the pandemic.
In France, the National Assembly approved on Tuesday, with a vote ratio of 278 to 193, the extension of the state of health emergency at national level until June 1.
The state of health emergency allows the imposition of restrictions, including on freedom of movement, under the pretext of the pandemic.
The French Republic has so far reported 3.4 million cases of coronavirus and 79,572 deaths.