Athens, Jan 3 (IANS) Greece will further extend the current nationwide lockdown to January 11 in order to address the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, a government spokesman has announced.
The second lockdown in Greece amidst the pandemic started on November 7, 2020, and was initially scheduled to end on November 30, reports Xinhua news agency.
However, as the numbers of new infections, deaths, intubated and the pressure on the national healthcare system remained high, it was first extended to December 7 and then December 14 and now January 7, the spokesman Stelios Petsas announced on Saturday.
In addition, a few restrictions which had been relaxed ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays are back in full force as of Sunday, Petsas added.
Under the stricter lockdown rules, retail shopping by the click-away system (in-person pickup) is suspended and all retail shops will be closed again.
Bookshops and salons which had also opened before the holidays, will remain shut, as well as churches and other places of worship.
The night curfew as of Sunday applies from 9 p.m. (instead of 10 p.m.) until 5:00 a.m.
The aim of these stricter measures, as Petsas said, is to reach the best possible epidemiological standards in the coming days to allow for schools to reopen on January 11 and for the gradual restart of the economy again.
"New cases are still high and the pressure on the National Health System continues. Our hospitals continue to treat a large number of patients. Unfortunately, about 2,500 fellow citizens spent Christmas in Covid beds, and more than 400 are still in intensive care units (ICUs)," he said.
"It is up to us to succeed. And we will do it with unity, responsibility, and discipline. Altogether," he added, urging for no complacency and a little more patience as hope is here with the start of mass vaccinations.
Greek citizens are still allowed to leave their homes for work or health reasons, to assist a person in need, exercise, walk a pet, shop for necessities, or attend a funeral by notifying authorities by SMS or bearing a signed declaration.
Restrictions in travelling outside of home prefectures will remain in force.
Greece has so far registered a total of 139,447 coronavirus cases since February 26, 2020, when the first infection was reported.
The overall death toll is 4,881.