Retail sector is opening as of Monday April 5 under restrictions

The retail sector is opening as of Monday (April 5) under restrictions, Deputy Civil Protection Minister for crisis management Nikos Hardalias announced during a live briefing on Wednesday.

Hardalias clarified the stores would operate with the “click away” and “click in shop” methods – picking up online orders and trying on clothes and shoes in person, in both cases by appointment – while those in multiplexes and malls would remain shut. (Shoppers will be able to send messages to 13032, which had been established at an earlier time.)

As of Saturday (April 3), up to 3 people in a group or a family will be able to travel between municipalities for exercise or excursions, as long as they observe health measures including wearing masks, he said. This relaxation of inter-city travel restrictions is allowed only on weekends and will be done on a pilot basis.

The coronavirus measures – treading a fine line between trying to contain a spike in infections and allowing people to go outdoors – were proposed, he said, by the Health Ministry’s committee of experts, who recommended “adjustments to current measures” after recognizing a pressing need for people to spend time outdoors in spring.

As to the reopening of schools, no decision will be made before next week, Hardalias noted, which is when the reopening of malls will also be considered.

“Let us leave our homes, observing measures, and let us let steam off but avoiding crowds in homes and at small spaces, which we know well only help to spread infections,” the minister said, acknowledging lockdown fatigue and warning against relaxing health rules.

51 new ICUs to soon be added to NHS

The next few weeks are critical for the national health system’s endurance during the ongoing third and toughest wave of the pandemic, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said during the briefing, urging citizens to observe health measures diligently.

Dozens of hospital admissions are registered on a daily basis, as the coronavirus’ variants are highly transmissible, he stressed.

Kikilias announced that another hospital would be dedicated to Covid-19 cases exclusively as of April 7. The Elefsina General Hospital “Thriasio” will offer 130 plain beds for Covid-19 patients and 33 beds in intensive care units. Thriasio will divert non-coronavirus cases to private clinics, while the hospital’s roll-call duties will be covered by medical staff from the private sector. He also noted that another 51 new ICUs will soon be set up in the national health system.

Concerning the unfolding national vaccination program, Kikilias said 1,691,000 doses have been administered to date at 1,042 inoculation centers, which are staffed by 3,500 medical workers. Of the total people vaccinated, 602,000 have already received their second dose, he noted.

Responding to a question, he said that the Onasseio Cardiological Center is treating cardiology patients as usual.