Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ Tuesday evening televised address on the coronavirus pandemic focused on a balanced combination of both personal responsibility and governmental measures as equally important in fighting what he called “a war with an enemy that is invisible but not invincible.”
Mitsotakis stressed that staying at home and not flocking hospitals on minor symptoms will restrict the virus’ transmission and will give the health system time to deal with emergencies.
“Our first priority is non-negotiable: saving lives,” he stressed, which is the reason that Greece imposed, “far earlier than other European countries, measures unprecedented under a time of peace.”
The government’s efforts from the onset of the coronavirus focused on limiting the spread of the virus, strengthening the health system, and supporting the economy and the workers, Mitsotakis said, placing special emphasis on job retention.
He then mentioned that 2,000 newly hired nursing staff was heading to its posts, while a total of 1,900 additional beds were added to the system, with the inclusion among others of NIMITS Hospital as a coronavirus treatment center and the newly built private Attica clinic.
Returning to the economic repercussions of the epidemic, upgraded by WHO to a pandemic globally, the Greek premier underlined that the Eurogroup’s decision to suspend the primary surplus target of 3.5 pce of GDP for this year meant that “all the costs of the health crisis and of the migration crisis will not be included in the 2020 state budget,” nor will expenditures on the unemployed, financially vulnerable, and welfare infrastructures.”
In addition, he said, “for the first time, the government will allocate 2 billion euros to assist businesses with reduced turnover, while the state – not the businesses – will assume the cost of part of workers’ wages in affected sectors.” Moreover, all tax and insurance obligations will be suspended, he said.
In cooperation with the Bank of Greece and the European Central Bank, “the state will cover the cost of loan rates and in turn, banks will suspend debt payments for businesses by September,” Mitsotakis said.
Plea to business
The prime minister stressed, “We want to save jobs. And I urge businesses not to make redundancies. Because there will be measures that will stimulate liquidity and allow them to withstand this adversity.”
Mitsotakis warned that “the risk will increase in the coming two months” and said “new restrictions will follow,” stressing discipline and change in daily attitude to listen to the experts. Experts, he said, keep repeating the importance of staying at home and having the attitude of already carrying the virus and avoiding spreading to others.
Speaking of the closure of schools and universities and remote working, the PM stressed that “what we are experiencing is not ’15 days of relaxed holidays'” but something more akin to war conditions.
Therefore, he added, this attitude requires “ many and drastic measures,” and relies on the discipline of each citizen to limit the pandemic, and therefore the number of casualties.