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Greece extends mask-wearing requirement as coronavirus infections flare up

FILE PHOTO: An usher wears a protective face shield before the start of "The Persians" an ancient Greek drama by Aeschylus first performed in 472 BC, following the easing of measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the ancient amphitheatre of Epidaurus, Greece, July 24, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas/File Photo

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will make mask-wearing compulsory in all indoor public spaces and also in outdoor spaces where proper social distancing cannot be observed, its deputy civil protection minister said on Friday, following a further rise in COVID-19 infections.

Greece reported 78 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections on Friday, its highest tally in about two months. Overall, it has so far confirmed 4,447 COVID-19 cases with 202 deaths, a relatively low number compared to many European countries, after imposing an early lockdown in the spring.

“The decisive factor in successfully confronting the pandemic in the first phase was citizens’ responsibility, the individual responsibility of every one,” Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said in a televised address.

“This was the ‘secret’ of Greece’s success and we must all show the same responsibility and alertness in this phase.”

Health authorities made mask-wearing compulsory for consumers at supermarkets 10 days ago and on Tuesday moved to extend the measure to more indoor public spaces to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Masks are already mandatory on public transport.

Authorities will prohibit visits to care facilities for the elderly and to hospitals until mid-August. They will also set a limit of 100 people attending weddings, funerals and baptisms.

Other restrictions to go into effect next month will allow no standing clients in bars, night clubs and live music establishments and will ban open air festivities until the end of August.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Gareth Jones

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