Greece tightens restrictions in Athens as COVID-19 spreads

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: First day of school after summer holidays amid COVID-19 in Athens

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek authorities on Tuesday tightened restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the greater Athens area, saying the pandemic was showing "worrying signs of resilience".

Health authorities reported 310 new confirmed COVID-19 infections on Tuesday and three deaths, bringing the total number since the first coronavirus case was detected on Feb. 25 to 13,730 and deaths to 313.

"The prefecture of Attica is now between a moderate to high epidemiological risk. There is an increase in the occupancy of intensive care beds," Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias told reporters.

The new measures will suspend the operation of live music establishments for 14 days and make the wearing of masks mandatory in all closed work spaces, private and public.

Masks will also be required in open air spaces in the greater Athens area, where about one third of the country's population lives, when the rule of a minimum 1.5 metres of social distancing cannot be observed.

For those older than 65, authorities urged the use of masks everywhere. In restaurants there will be a maximum limit of six people seated per table while cinemas and theatres will be allowed to seat only at 60% capacity.

Open air produce markets will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, mask wearing will be mandatory for both consumers and producers and a minimum distance of three metres must separate benches.

"The epidemiological load is showing spreading trends in greater Athens," said professor Gikas Magiorkinis, an infectious diseases expert.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Gareth Jones)