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Greek Police bans public gatherings of over 100 persons until Feb 1

Out of a sudden and without a warning, the chief of Greece’s Police issued a ban on large public gatherings with more than 100 people with effect as of 6:00 a.m. Tuesday and for 6 days, until February 1, 2021, “at least.” Police Chief Michalis Karamalakis claims for the decision “suggestions by the health experts’ committee”, however, they dismiss such claims.

According to the announcement by Police chief Michalis Karamalakis, the ban seeks to seeks to discourage gatherings like large parties and protest rallies that have the potential of becoming super-spreader events.

“urgent reasons of public interest concerning the protection of public health and the taking of exceptional measures to address the serious risk of the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus,”

Violations of the ban carry a fine of 5,000 euros for businesses or organizations responsible for hosting or calling such a gathering, 3,000 euros for individual organizers and 300 euros for each participant.

Karamalakis said the decision to extend the ban until the start of next month at least stems from other recommendations from the government’s committee of health advisers issued on January 22 and warning of the risks of a fresh rise in infections if further restrictions are lifted.

However, at least one member of the Health experts’ committee dismissed Karalamalkis’ claim.

Speaking to Skai TV on Tuesday morning, Microbiology Professor at the Department of Public Health Policy at the University of West Attica and member of the Infectious Diseases Committee, Alkiviadis Vatopoulos, said that there has been no such proposal by the committee.

“I hear that from you now for the first time,” Vatopoulos told Skai journalists who asked him about the committee suggestion.

Τhe ban comes as the majority of business activities operates again since last week, secondary education schools are scheduled to open on Feb 1 and the number of daily infections and of intubations has been decreasing.

  • It must have been a pure coincidence that ban is imposed ahead of a planned students’ protest rally who demand the reopening of universities and no “special police body” at the facilities of the higher education. The rally is scheduled on Thursday, Jan 28.

Police sources reportedly said that the ban does not affect gatherings of citizens in commercial streets and outside stores.

  • Clarifications on the government side are urgently needed especially with regards to the reasons such a ban has been imposed and whether it affects protesters only but not consumers.

So far, the government claims that the ban is, in fact, a “relaxation of the restrictions.”

Deputy Minister for Citizen Protection, Lefteris Oikonomou, told media that “the ban is in fact a relaxation of restrictions as until now gatherings with more than 9 people were forbidden.”

  • In this sense, up to 99 people can now gather in squares, something that was forbidden until now under the lockdown restrictions!?

Asked on whether the ban has been imposed due to the scheduled Education protest rally, Oikonomou said ” we should stop seeing ghosts in this country.”

Opposition media speak of “a blatant violation of human rights without any explanation by the government and without any valid reason.”

There is an outcry on social media with the most trending hashtags to be #κυβερνηση_χουντα  and #ΝΔ_Χουντα – “Government Junta” and “New Democracy Junta”.

Epidemiology Professor Athina Linou commented that the ban decision was taken in panic.”

First opposition party to react is Communist KKE that calls on the government to withdraw the ban.

PS Fact is that there is no logic behind such a ban  – or better say: “relaxation ban” for 6 days? – , as there is no logic for the night curfew 9 pm-5 am when thousands of Greeks are out and on the streets during the day.

“I wouldn’t wonder if in the end the erratic government measures (see QR Code) will backfire and help create an anti-measures movement.” – It’s not me saying that, it’s the cat!

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