Three-week lockdown from Saturday

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Thursday a three-week nationwide lockdown in an effort to stop an “aggressive” jump in infections, a rise in intubations and intensive care admissions.

The lockdown will be the second since the start of the pandemic and will go into effect on Saturday morning.

All retail stores will close and travel between regions will be banned, while authorities will reintroduce a system obliging citizens to send text messages to a government number to leave home to work, shop, visit a doctor or take exercise. Secondary schools will close and introduce distance learning, though kindergartens and primary schools will stay open.

“Once again, I choose to take measures sooner rather than later,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address to the nation, adding that his decisions are being guided by the expert committee advising the government.

Mitsotakis says a surge in new cases over the last five days have “forced” him to take measures now, instead of waiting to see if recent restrictions will pay off. If the government waited and current measures didn’t work, the pressure on hospitals would be “unbearable,” he explained.

He also said the government will financially support citizens who will be affected by the new lockdown, noting that details of the plan will be presented by Finance Minister Christos Staikouras later today.

In the same presser, infectious diseases professor Sotiris Tsiodras presented data from the last few weeks showing the massive rise in infections. “The virus is here” and the fight against it continues, he said.