Greece reports jump in COVID-19 cases after weeks of decline

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: People visit the Parthenon temple atop the Acropolis hill in Athens

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece on Tuesday reported a jump in daily coronavirus infections and outlined plans to reimpose curbs on entertainment, after many weeks of declining case numbers that prompted authorities to lift most COVID-19 restrictions.

Public health authorities reported 1,797 new daily cases on Tuesday, more than twice the level of 801 cases reported on Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 429,144. COVID-related deaths have reached 12,754.

Greece, heavily dependent on tourism, has lifted most restrictions for travel and entertainment and scrapped mask wearing rules in outdoor spaces as cases fell.

But health experts have voiced concern over the coronavirus and its more contagious Delta variant after infections started rising again in recent days.

Α government official said on Tuesday many of the new positive test cases are youngsters and are linked to entertainment, so authorities decided to reimpose restrictions on restaurants, nightclubs and bars later this week.

"Effective July 8, restaurants, bars, clubs and entertainment venues will operate only with sitting clients and in line with legislated capacity rules," Deputy Citizen's Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said at a briefing.

Offenders will also face hefty fines, including suspension of their operation, Hardalias said.

"These emergency measures aim to contain the spread of the virus in younger ages so that we all have a freer but, most important, a safe summer," he added.

About 38% of Greece's eligible population is fully vaccinated so far and the government has offered incentives to encourage more people to get the shot, including cash and free mobile data for youth, as it wants to bring that rate up to at least 70% by autumn.

A lockdown since November has cost many billions of euros to the Greek economy which is emerging from a decade-long crisis. The government has said that it would not close the economy again because of the pandemic if its was just to protect an unvaccinated minority.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, Editing by William Maclean)

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