Petsas: Covid-19 information campaign to be boosted with extra 9.0 million euro

A joint ministerial decision (JMD) issued on Saturday will increase the funds available for the Covid-19 public information campaign by 9.0 million euros, to reach 20 million euros in total, government spokesperson Stelios Petsas announced. He noted that this represents 0.29 pct of the fiscal measures adopted up until April in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and that there is an express provision for local and regional mass media to be included in the allocation of this spending.
“Keeping the citizens informed is one of the most important weapons that we have in the fight against coronavirus,” the deputy minister to the Prime Minister noted. “From the first moment of the coronavirus pandemic, the government moved quickly in order to tackle the health and economic repercussions of the crisis,” he added.
Underlining that “information literally saves lives,” Petsas said that the government had therefore included the essential public information and communication campaign as one of the required public protection measures and behaviours for limiting the spread of the disease.
“It is self-evident that prevention, restricting the spread and containing the number of those that need to be hospitalised to controllable levels reduces the fiscal footprint of the pandemic, while contributing to a return to ‘normality’ as fast as possible and with the smallest possible repercussions,” he added.
Greece’s success in containing the disease compared with other countries was based, on the level of communications, on emphasising the need to stay at home despite the fatigue, and to continue to highlight the crucial importance of responsible, timely and reliable information, Petsas pointed out.
“It was clear that meeting those two crucial criteria could not depend entirely on the willingness of the mass media to make a social contribution and the good will of their staff. We had an obligation, as a responsible state, to put together a professional, organised and cohesive communications campaign to inform the citizens,” he said.
The government had revealed on April 10 that the public information campaign will not stop at the end of April, since the country was now entering the most difficult and crucial phase, the return to a “new normality”, the spokesperson explained.
“This process will be long and slow. This is why we are obliged to plan a programme with targeted messages for different social and age groups, for different sectors of economic activity, as the easing of the restrictive measures that will be announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the start of next week will not be horizontal or simultaneous,” Petsas added.
Citizens will need to be “trained” in a new way of life and protected from misinformation and fake news, preventing insecurity, fear and panic from taking hold, he said.
He also noted that, in the framework of the campaign’s complete transparency, the finance ministry will pay all those participating or being paid to broadcast or print the government message directly, without any returns. For the additional sum of the information campaign, the fee of contractors will be restricted to 1 pct.
“The government will do whatever is necessary to restrict the repercussions of the pandemic. Our priority is, on the one hand, to protect the health of the citizens because every life saved has priceless value, and on the other hand, absolute transparency in the management of the tax payers’ money. With a cohesive plan and programme we will emerge from the quarantine together – hopeful, strong and united.