Greece will impose a countrywide lockdown from Monday, March 23, to combat the coronavirus, barring people from moving for “unnecessary reasons”, except mainly to go to and from work and for emergencies.
Addressing the public in a televised address to the nation on Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that of 6am Monday, all “unnecessary movements” in the country will be restricted.
“This is perhaps the last measure an organized democratic state can take,” the PM said.
The lockdown, which will remain effective until April 6, means that all citizens and residents in Greece must stay indoors (with some exceptions). Violators will be fined 150 euros.
Excluded from the rule will be those going to and from work (strictly during work hours); going to purchase groceries; going to the doctor, to buy medicine or to help a person in need; going to the bank (strictly when transactions cannot be made online); and individuals walking their pet or exercising outdoors (can be done solitary or strictly in pairs).
Those who will be moving around must have identification on them in the form of an ID or a passport. They must also have a special document with them, explaining to authorities the reason for movement. The document (in Greek) can be obtained online from the website www.forma.gov.gr. Other options include sending an SMS to the number 13033 (free of charge) or signing a personal declaration on a piece of paper (instructions can be found on the website).
Private cars can circulate for the aforementioned reasons with only the driver (who must obtain the special document explaining the reason for moving) and strictly one other person. Citizens traveling to their permanent place of residence are also exempt from the measure until they arrive at their destination. Strict checks will be made at toll booths on freeways. Drivers found to be traveling for leisure will be fined and sent back home.
Access to and all playgrounds, parks and marinas are prohibited.
The implementation of the measure will be monitored by the Greek police, the municipal police, the port authority and the country’s national authority for transparency. Athens and Thessaloniki will also be monitored from above by helicopters and drones.
Also excluded from the restriction are members of the government and parliament, government officials and all officials in the sectors of health, civil protection, security bodies and armed forces.
Greece’s lockdown measure comes after a large portion of the public defied the government’s quarantine measures and often crowded open spaces and also traveled en masse out of Athens by car and ferry.
The total recorded coronavirus cases in Greece by Sunday evening were 624 with the death toll at 15.