For months now, our homeland, but also the whole world, has been fighting a invisible enemy. We took unprecedented measures to limit its spread. We, as a society, have accepted the need to freeze economic activity to save human lives. We stayed away from people we love in order to protect them. We did not go to our churches. And we stayed home, following the advice of experts. We have shown, you have shown, unprecedented responsibility and solidarity. Thus, the individual stance became a collective success. And the bonds between the State and the citizens were accompanied by reforms that once seemed distant or even impossible: Digital Public Administration that serves quickly, simply and easily. Work and Education from a distance. A better National Health System. And a Civil Protection that has proven that it can be by our side in every need. All of this was not a product of luck, but of hard work. The great successes are due to the many small heroes who respond to the call of responsibility. And these heroes are each and every one of you. Thank you for setting an example for our country around the world.Today, we can safely say that the measures we have taken have paid off. The data cannot be disputed: For days now, new cases have been kept to a minimum. More important, however, is the steady decline in patients with coronavirus in hospitals. As well as the decline in the number of our fellow citizens who are intubated in the Intensive Care Units.I want to express my support to the families who lost their loved ones. Their pain is not alleviated by the fact that in Greece we had far fewer victims than in almost all European countries.
Following the suggestions of the Scientific Committee, I can today announce the axes of a “safety bridge” to the new everyday life: From next Monday, May 4, the restrictions on the movement of citizens will be lifted. In other words, written permission and related SMS are removed. However, traffic restrictions outside our county will continue for at least two weeks. Individual sports will be allowed in the open and at sea. But organized beaches will still be closed. Some types of stores and services will be open on the same day. Indicatively, I mention: Bookstores, electronic items and sporting goods stores. Like hairdressers, but always by appointment. The rest of the retail will resume on Monday, May 11, except for shopping malls. These will open on June 1. In all stores, of course, terms will apply that will limit the density of visitors. Strict measures will be taken to protect workers.
Allow me, here, a reference to the Church: I thank the Archbishop and the clergy for our understanding and cooperation. The experience of this year’s Easter was not easy for any of us. It turned out, however, that it was necessary for everyone. From May 4, the churches will be open for individual worship. And from Sunday, May 17, the faithful will be able to participate in the Divine Liturgy and in the other services. But always with strict rules that will be agreed with the Holy Synod and the scientific community.
In Education, the lessons of the 3rd Grade of high school will start again on May 11. A week later, the other grades the High School will follow. Schools, however, will operate with other rules that will limit – as far as possible – large gathering of students. Distance learning will continue to support children who, for special reasons, do not have to come to class. Primary and kindergartens remain closed. They may, I repeat, be open on June 1, and only if we are absolutely sure that the course of the epidemic is going down. Tomorrow, the Minister of Education will make a more detailed briefing. It is in constant consultation with the Committee of Scientists for the best possible implementation of the protection measures for our children and teachers.
On June 1, the activity in the field of catering begins, always with conditions, which will have been agreed by then. On the same day, the all season hotels will open. And then the second wave of Justice work will be activated. In June, finally, and depending on the developments, the rest of the economic activity will be gradually released. However, it is unlikely that big gatherings, such as festivals, concerts or sporting events with spectators, will be allowed during the summer. As is clear, the program of the next phase is fully studied. It will be scaled per week but will be evaluated every 24 hours by a mixed Government Observatory of the Health and Civil Protection Services.…
Of course, in the coming time, difficulties are lurking, in Health but also in the Economy, the prolonged “freezing” of which has social consequences. Because at the same time it primarily affects the weakest. Gradual restart, therefore, is the duty of every responsible government. No one denies that, after the coronavirus, the crisis will be deep and global. And as the pandemic strikes everyone, everyone will have to bear the weight of its consequences. But in a fair way and with allies the truth and realism. However, I will talk in detail about all this in Parliament soon. In the meantime, State and citizens must continue the war with the invisible enemy, who will wait to strike with the slightest complacency. That is why those in charge will not interrupt the daily information. And the State will be on permanent alert. A new optimism was born in this latest test. A renewed national confidence. I am confident that our society will respond responsibly and seriously to the new challenge that lies ahead: A smooth, safe and gradual return to a more familiar pace of daily life. As we said: We return, but we are careful. Above all, we remain safe.
It is up to us to do it.