The Greek government announced a mandatory two-week lockdown for residents of its second largest city of Thessaloniki to try to stem an alarming spike in coronavirus cases.
Domestic and international flights to and from Thessaloniki’s Alexander the Great International Airport will also be suspended under the new emergency measures, which take effect on Tuesday and also include the city of Serres, where cases have also spiked.
“The health situation in Thessaloniki is serious. We must act to avoid overloading the health system,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said.
Everything will remain closed, except for schools, and those wanting to leave their homes will have to seek permission via text message, similar to the procedures established nationwide in March at the beginning of the pandemic.
The latest restrictions were announced on Monday, two days after health officials announced additional nationwide measures, including the month-long shut down of restaurants and coffee shops in Athens.
“The government rang a lot of alarm bells early (about the virus), but some did not listen,” said Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias, who visited Thessaloniki on Monday after 1,300 new cases were registered there over the weekend.
“We must act now, before intensive care units buckle under the strain of lives in danger,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address.
“The virus is attacking in waves, and we need to quickly adapt.”
Greece has registered more than 37,000 coronavirus cases since February, including over 1,600 on Sunday, and a total of 635 deaths.
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