Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made a televised address to the nation, announcing a roadmap for the exit from security measures and describing how Easter will be held.
In his message, Mr Mitsotakis looked optimistic that the pandemic in Greece appears to be stabilizing and that the health care system is responding to pressure. According to him, the wall of immunity is being built at a fast pace, but officially announced a travel ban on Easter, saying that “a mass movement creates the risk of the virus spreading everywhere.”
The Prime Minister also announced new steps:
Opening of restaurants (taverns and other catering establishments) from May 3 in the open air. Compulsory self-tests of employees, observance of the distance between the seats at the tables and known hygiene measures. Easing of the curfew, which will start at 23:00. Secondary and elementary schools open on 10 May. Tourism opening May 15. Resumption of travel between regions from 15 May.
Mr. Mitsotakis also sent a stern message to those “recklessly gathering in the squares,” urging them to “finally stop.” He again urged citizens to protect “their health with this great gift of science” – vaccination. Finally, he announced that a new line of vaccinations for citizens over 30 will start from Holy Week, and very quickly.
Mitsotakis’s entire speech:
“We are going through the last and most sensitive phase of the war against the coronavirus. I know everyone is very tired. But new allies have appeared next to us: vaccinations, self-tests, and improved weather, which inspire optimism that this unprecedented tension will be completed.
So we need clarity and perspective. With a clear road map for the next period. I’ll tell you about her today.
The pandemic in our country seems to be stabilizing even with a high incidence rate. The healthcare system, thanks to the self-sacrifice of our doctors and nurses, responds to pressure. And the policy of gradual and controlled lifting of restrictions pays off. Because, even slowly, the positivity index goes down.
Most importantly, however, vaccines are effective and the immune wall is building rapidly. Unfortunately, the fact is that the vast majority of those intubated are now our unvaccinated fellow citizens.
I said that our goal is a safe Easter and a free summer. But the former can undermine the latter. This is why we shouldn’t travel on Easter. There are still many people infected with COVID in Attica and major cities. Their massive movement carries the risk of the virus spreading everywhere. And we know that hospitalization in the region is difficult. Therefore, we must think not only about our vacation, but also about the health of the inhabitants of our villages and islands.
I know this can be upsetting for some. But this is the only option that combines the recommendations of doctors, the needs of society and the economy. And, of course, the only thing that will allow us immediately after Easter to move on to a greater liberalization of our life and work.
Thus, provided that we do not face a new upswing, we can follow a schedule with three stages:
Firstly, on Monday, May 3, restaurants with tables on the street will reopen. And traffic during the curfew will stop from 11 am. Restaurants will reopen with mandatory employee self-tests, table spacing and well-known hygiene measures.
Secondly, on May 10, secondary and primary schools will resume work. Self-diagnostic tests for students, teachers and administrative staff will also be applied here. Like all other protection rules.
Third, tourism will open on Saturday 15 May. With specifications for visitors who have been vaccinated, as well as for those who have to travel with the test. May 15 is also marked by permission to move between regions for all citizens. Some cultural events will also be allowed.
We must walk this path carefully and together. Because the data is encouraging. But they also require discipline.
With the prospect of lifting the restrictions, the tired one no longer has an arbitrary alibi. And those who recklessly gather in the squares, finally, let them stop. While a few out of millions are not consistent, they can hurt many. To myself and to those who are next to them.
However, I return to the most important question: vaccinations. Despite the impeccable organization, we have not yet reached the desired percentage, especially among the most vulnerable. Yet vaccines are proven to be safe and effective every day. It is tragic that people died, and timely vaccination could save them.
Therefore, I urge you once again, I ask you to protect your health with this great gift of science. There is safety in the vaccine. Yes, there are cases of side effects, but the numbers show that a traffic accident is more likely than a vaccination problem.
In fact, from Holy Week, a new line of vaccination of our fellow citizens, over 30, begins, and very quickly. The goal is to expand the immunity wall in the country even faster. And distribution of tests for self-examination in the country has already tripled. After a while, the Minister of Health will make more detailed announcements.
All this brings us closer to the summer of greater freedom and prosperity. So let’s believe in ourselves. And we will greet him safely, unitedly and optimistically. “