Discussions concerning the possible lifting of movement restrictions on travel between Greek prefectures for Easter are not a priority at the moment, Greek health experts said on Friday.
Speaking during the Covid-19 media briefing, Greek infectious diseases expert Gkikas Magiorkinis said the pressure on the country’s health system and the high number of fatalities due to the coronavirus are “of major concern” at the moment.
“Various protocols could be applied for movement between prefectures, but right now the pressure on the health system is a priority above anything else,” Magiorkinis said.
He highlighted that discussions on lifting restrictions for Easter will take place “at a later stage”.
With Easter approaching (May 2), Greeks are waiting to be informed if lockdown restrictions will ease so they can travel to the countryside to celebrate the holiday. Movement between Greek prefectures is currently banned (except for health and work reasons) due to the government’s effort to curb the spread of Covid-19. Earlier this week it was rumored that movement between prefectures for the Easter holiday will be allowed only for those that have a negative self-test result. However, this has not been confirmed by the government.
The Hellenic National Public Health Organization (EODY) on Friday announced 3,067 new coronavirus cases and 91 deaths. The number of intubated patients in Greece’s ICUs is 824, according to EODY. Since the start of the pandemic, the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country has reached 311,033. The Covid-19 death toll in Greece is 9,330.
Professor Papaevaggelou: The situation remains ‘fragile’
On her part, Professor Vana Papaevaggelou, infectious diseases specialist and member of the Covid-19 health committee, described the pandemic situation in Greece as “fragile” and stressed that the number of fatalities due to coronavirus is high and is expected to remain so next week.
She stressed that Greece currently has 26,000 active Covid-19 cases, with 5,500 hospitalized. She added that the pressure on Greece’s healthcare system is felt especially in Northern Greece, as 91 percent of ICU beds in Thessaloniki are occupied. In Attica, 86 percent of ICU beds are occupied.
“The transmission of the virus within households and the high spreading both indoors and outdoors should keep us alert,” she said.
Retail stores in Kozani to operate only by “click away” method
During the briefing, Greek Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias announced that retail stores in Kozani will be allowed to operate as of Monday, April 19, only by the “click away” method. It is reminded that shops in Kozani remained closed, due to increased coronavirus cases, when Greece’s retail sector restarted operations.
Greece’s “click away” shopping method sees consumers making online or phone orders and picking up their purchases only outside of stores.
Hardalias also said that driving schools in Greece can re-open as of April 19 under the condition that driving theoretical courses/examinations are conducted online and that instructors and students take Covid-19 self-tests before driving lessons and tests.
When asked if all restrictions will be lifted by May 14, when Greece officially opens for tourism, or if measures will remain and apply to Greek residents but not to foreign visitors, Hardalias answered that “it has been made clear and it is obvious” that when tourism opens everything that applies to tourists will also apply to Greek citizens.
“Until then, we must be patient. We monitor the epidemiological burden day by day and examine each region individually… When the time comes we will be ready to make the necessary decisions,” he said.
When asked if he confirms the recent reports that claim Greece will lift its quarantine measures for some international arrivals as of next week, the deputy minister did not comment.
Update of Greece’s Covid-19 risk-assessment map
During the Covid-19 briefing, it was announced that the islands of Thassos and Kythnos, and the municipalities of Rethymno (Crete), Phaistos, Maronia – Sapes, Didymoteicho, Pydna – Kolindros, Kavala, Volos, Sintiki (Serres) and North Tzoumerka (Ioannina, Epirus) were being moved to Covid-19 ‘dark red’ level (very high-risk) on Greece’s coronavirus risk-assessment map due to a rise in cases.
Due to an improvement of the epidemiological data, as of Monday, April 19, the following areas would be moved from ‘dark red’ level (very high-risk) to ‘red’ level (high risk): Mykonos, Leros, Karystos, Kymi – Aliveri, Skyros, Lokres, Agistri, Kythira and Hydra.
For further information (in Greek) on the restrictive measures in ‘red’ and ‘dark red’ areas, press here. The map is updated every week.