The government does not seem set to abandon its hopes of further relaxing restrictions on economic activity next week even though the Covid-19 data continues to look alarming.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attempted a change of gear at the start of this week, by turning the cabinet’s attention from the troubling epidemiological situation and the strain on public finances, to the post-Covid recovery.
Athens has already begun to plan its new strategy by trying to predict Ankara’s moves following the latest European Council. The 27 EU leaders have given Turkey another chance but without a “cart blanche,” leaving the final decisions on EU-Turkey relations for their June Summit.
The government is trying to send reassuring messages about its ability to provide sufficient economic support to make up for the longer than expected impact of Covid-19, even though the virus’s persistence has thrown off New Democracy’s initial planning for 2021.
After a day of celebrations, littered with contributions from foreign governments and dignitaries, to mark Greece’s bicentennial on Thursday, the harsh reality of the country’s present challenges struck on Friday.
The news that the UK Parliament looks likely to pass new pandemic measures which include a 5,000 pound fine for unnecessary foreign travel until July has caused consternation in Athens, where it was hoped that UK visitors would be among the first and most numerous to take advantage of the reopening of Greek tourism from May 14.
On Monday the authorities announced 1,707 new cases of Covid-19, 69 deaths and 681 patients intubated in ICUs. There were 394 new admissions with Covid in hospitals across the country.
The week began as the last one ended, with the national health system under immense pressure from Covid-19 and the government trying to find ways to cope with the crisis while under fire from the opposition.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is due in Brussels this Monday to attend the EU’s General Affairs Council, which is expected to focus on EU-Turkey relations ahead of the European Council this week.
All eyes were on the government’s decision regarding the relaxation of lockdown measures on Friday, as Covid-19 continued to spread across Greece.