Greece proceeds to 14-day nationwide lockdown to contain novel coronavirus spread

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Greece proceeds to a 14-day nationwide lockdown effective from Monday in the context of confinement measures aimed to contain the further spread of the novel coronavirus, the government announced on Sunday.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the ban in an address broadcast live on public broadcaster ERT.

The measure takes effect from Monday at 6:00 a.m. local time, he said. All unnecessary movement of people is prohibited.

"It must be taken on time, so it is not taken in vain...We need bold and timely initiatives," the Greek prime minister stated.

"I will not allow a frivolous few to undermine the safety of most, because a few irresponsible can harm thousands responsible," he added, thanking those who have stayed at home this March.

Greece now has 15 fatalities related to complications of COVID-19 up from 13 reported on Saturday, the Greek Health Ministry announced shortly earlier in an e-mailed press release.

The number of confirmed infections currently stands at 624. Another 94 new cases were registered from Saturday.

On Sunday 124 people were hospitalized, including 34 in intensive care units, according to the press announcement.

As of Monday citizens will be required to fill in an application they can download from a website and notify authorities by email or SMS (the elderly can carry a written statement) on their movements.

They will be allowed to strictly go to work and return home, to purchase food or medicine, to visit a doctor or a person that requires care, Mitsotakis said. They will also be allowed to exercise alone or with a second person or walk a pet.

Whoever circulates must carry with them an ID or a passport at all times.

Exempted will be state officials, security and medical personnel, and staff from civil protection, health services, security forces and the armed forces.

No more than two passengers, including the driver, are allowed in private cars, while public transport schedules will be reduced.

Those who violate the measure face a minimum of 150 euro (162 U.S. dollars) fine.

The measure will be in effect until April 6 at 6:00 a.m., Nikos Hardalias, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crises Management at the Ministry of Citizen Protection, clarified at a televised ministerial press briefing after the prime minister's address.

Helicopters and drones will be used to monitor whether citizens comply with the measure, officials told the same briefing.

Regional governments will support the homeless, people relying on soup kitchens as well as stray animals, it was added.

A 5,000 euro fine is imposed on those who have arrived in Greece as of Friday afternoon from abroad and violate a 14-day self-isolation at home. So far the authorities have imposed fines in 13 cases, officials announced at Sunday's press conference.

Since the first infection was reported in the country on Feb. 26, Greece has been gradually beefing up measures to control the spread of the virus, but a minority of citizens still did not follow instructions.

Since March 12 until today a total of 233 individuals were arrested nationwide, Greek police announced in an e-mailed press statement on Sunday.

In addition, it was announced that the police has started patrols with loudspeakers asking people to avoid public gatherings. The message has been recorded in 10 languages, including Greek, English, French, Arabic and Pashto.

Schools, universities, restaurants, coffee shops, shopping malls, retail shops, sports and cultural centers, as well as public parks have been shut down since last week.

Furthermore, restrictions and bans had been imposed in land, air and sea travel from abroad and domestically. (1 euro = 1.08 U.S. dollars)

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