April 23, 2020 / 10:33 AM / a month ago

Greece extends coronavirus lockdown by a week to May 4

FILE PHOTO: Municipal workers wearing protective suits disinfect Syntagma square, after the Greek government imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece on Thursday extended its general coronavirus lockdown by a week to May 4, saying any relaxation would be staggered over May and June.

Greek authorities imposed a blanket shutdown of public life from mid-March to stem coronavirus contagion, and the country has recorded a significantly lower outbreak of the COVID-19 respiratory disease than many other European nations.

Restrictions, which allow people to move around only with an official permit, will be extended to May 4 from April 27, government spokesman Stelios Petsas told a news briefing.

“The objective of the confinement measures is not to remain in a glass bowl, stuck in our homes. The objective is to take our lives back and win back our way of life which was temporarily deprived of us by this cunning and invisible enemy,” Petsas said.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis would map out the transition in a public speech early next week, Petsas said.

By Wednesday evening, Greece had reported 2,408 cases of COVID-19 and 121 deaths.

The country shut schools and places where large numbers of people congregate on March 10, followed by strict restrictions on movement from March 23.

Those measures limited any risk of the health system collapsing from mass admission of patients or from many people falling ill at once, Petsas said.

Greece is already dealing with austerity and the painful economic reforms it was required to introduce in response to three bailouts between 2010 and 2015.

Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Giles Elgood

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